From its very earliest days, the Ecclestons have been involved closely with the Herald, for Joseph Eccleston in 1868 came from Shrewsbury to Whitchurch, as the actual printer responsible for the production of the first Whitchurch Herald. After 45 years service, he retired in 1913, but he lived to be 86 years of age, dying in May 1935. He had seven brothers and a daughter called Sarah. The youngest of the former Rupert James Eccleston starting his apprenticeship as linotype operator in September 1905. The eldest of Joseph Eccleston’s seven sons was Albert George Eccleston, a solicitor in the town, founding Lee, Bygott and Eccleston of Whitchurch and Wem, solicitors still in business in the area, now Henry Lees.
Upon Mr Jones’ impending retirement, Rupert Eccleston, and Mr Henry Ridgeway took over the working directorship of the paper, formed a limited company and moved to premises in Newtown Street in July 1924 from High Street, until 2008.
Under Rupert Eccleston’s guidance, the newspapers influence and its general printing and commercial stationery business steadily progressed and at one time separate Wem and Ellesmere editions of the Herald were produced. In spite of the inevitable and immense problems created by the 1939-45 War, of newsprint and staff restrictions the company continued to expand.
Editors Through the Years
It is not known who first occupied the editorial chair though it is thought to have been Mr Robert Barrow Jones himself, as he was an author in his own right.
In 1881, Robert Furber began an association as such which lasted until 1910, and it is believed for some part of the 1914-1918 War also. He was succeeded in 1910 by George Reeves who came to the paper as a reporter in 1897 developing into an authoritative writer on agriculture and was held in much esteem/
George Reeves resigned in 1925, his successor being Tom Cartright, who also trained on the paper before gaining wide experience elsewhere and who had a distinguished war career. His health failed in 1938 and Mr Reeves returned for a two-year spell until his death at the age of 61. From 1942 until 1950, Mr E.G.M. (Ted) Ellis of Wem was in charge. When he died I 1962, a freelance journalist, had been associated with the Herald for over 40 years.
In September 1950, a figure well known to many In the area, Percy Newton, was appointed editor, 17 years after leaving the paper on which under Mr Cartwright, he had received his initial training. He was a distinguished sportsman having played for Manchester United as an amateur and locally not only as a soccer player but also as a cricketer. Percy retired in 1975 and died on 31 October 1993. He was succeeded by Eric Hinton, another final local sportsman, who after adventurous RAF aircrew service returned to his position of a senior reporter after the war. Eric, in turn, retired in 1986 and died in May 1996, being succeeded by Ron Andrews in 1987, 1988 Kevin Catchpole, 1989 Andrew Bowan, and in 1990 Mike Arnold, who when he retired in 1998, Andrew Bowan, returned again being succeeded by David Fox.
In June 1965, Rupert Eccleston died aged 72 years and he would have completed 60 years of service to the company in September of that year. On the death of his father, R.J.L. (Sam) Eccleston, who had joined the company in 1952, assumed the managing directorship and appointed John Ward of Fauls as Advertisement Manager.