April 13, 2024 History of Whitchurch Herald & Herald Printers


When the Whitchurch Herald newspaper was sold to the Thompson organization in January 1975, this transference of newspaper proprietorship brought no redundancies whatsoever but remained in their same offices at Newtown Street, Whitchurch. For which monthly rental was paid to the printing company. The newspaper production staff were all absorbed and retrained in computer typesetting and litho printing techniques by the new Herald Printers (Whitchurch) Ltd which was established on 28 January 1975 by R.J.L. (Sam) Eccleston and his wife, Margaret Vera Eccleston.

This enterprise was launched with some trepidation at the vastness of the step taken and the risks involved, but an immediate start was made with the expansion of the printing and stationery interests especially in the litho colour-printing field which it was felt would lead the company into the future.

Consequently, the purchase of the Salopian Modern Press, The Bull Ring Whitchurch from Charles Robertson came in December 1976. Their premises were sold and some machinery and members of staff transferred to Herald Printers, included Glynn Morris a widely experienced and well-connected sales representative. Salopian Modern Press had pre-war been known as Hortons of Green End, Whitchurch. Further acquisitions followed with the Clifton Press, (Mr Vic Went), Newtown, Powys, Crane Printers (Mr Bill Crane) Oswestry and in 1997 the Tabernacle Press (Mr Hindmarsh) Llanrhaidr. Mr Went acted as an agent in the Powys area and Mr Crane maintained a small printing unit on the Oswestry Industrial estate and also assisted with production at Whitchurch as required. Two commission only agents were also appointed in Mr Keith Blenkharn (Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury School) and Mr Bill Roberts (Ellesmere and Oswestry rural). Mr Morris retired in 1981, succeeded as sales representative by John Denson, a former staff member, and sadly died in 2004. Mr Crane and Mr Went remained as employees until their deaths.

Previous small one-man business purchased had been Macllreys in Dodington, Whitchurch, Baileys & Shentons in Malpas, Locketts in Market Drayton.

The decision to concentrate mightily on colour litho and commercial printing proved highly successful with a soaring turnover and many prestigious local and national companies and agencies being attracted. This established and built a loyal sound customer base embracing Shropshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester and North Wales.

In December 1989, Mr Barry Humphreys and his wife, Linda, from Stoke on Trent, took over the company with Sam Eccleston continuing in a full-time administration and sales capacity. Particular responsibility lay in North Wales area and then went part-time until his retirement in 2001. After 49 years in this local family-owned business.  Sam had trained from 1949 to 1952 at C Tinling & Co, a large printer in Liverpool and Eccleston family involvement with the Herald newspaper and printing had totaled 154 years – grandfather Joseph for 45 years, father Rupert James for 60 years and his son, RJL (Sam) for 49 years).

Barry Humphreys was an experienced managing director with a lifelong background of the print industry. With his valuable contracts, he expanded the customer base into the Potteries, North Wales, Wolverhampton, Manchester and Worcestershire and initiated further investment into computer typesetting, multi-colour presses and high speed finishing machinery.

On 1st August 1006, the company was sold to the Parkin brothers of Rubell Print, Bunbury, Tarporley and Barry retired in the summer of 2009. Once again, there were no redundancies, but in 2007, the Newtown Street premises occupied since 1924, were closed. Some machinery and the majority of the production staff transferred to Bunbury; only a small sales and production offices remained in Watergate Street, Whitchurch.