Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One hundred & twenty years of spreading the news...

After 120 years in print under various names, owners & banners, the Eden Magnet & its forebears are poised to mark a significant milestone in the newspaper world.

Amongst those that amalgamated with the Magnet over the years was the Pambula Voice, the first issue of which rolled off the press in August 1892.

W. D. Pfeiffer, founder of the Pambula Voice.
Published by William Daniel Pfeiffer, the paper’s founder had moved to Pambula from Moruya where he had completed an apprenticeship with the Examiner before establishing the short lived Moruya Advance in 1890. Relocating to Pambula in 1892 during the heyday of the town’s gold rush, he brought his printing plant with him & established the Pambula Voice.

Mentioning his choice of name in an editorial for the first issue, Pfeiffer noted that “…at a public meeting held in Pambula a few months earlier to discuss the starting of a newspaper one gentleman had said that Pambula had never been fairly represented to outsiders because it had no voice of its own – no newspaper to guard its interests.” From this simple assessment of the local state of affairs came the paper’s name, although its full title could perhaps go down as one of the longest in the district – The Pambula Voice & Eden, Wyndham, Rocky Hall, Towamba & Merimbula Advocate.

In his inaugural edition, Mr Pfeiffer said that “Pambula & Eden evidently have a great future before them & if The Voice can do anything towards hastening along that desirable end, it shall not be in vain.”

Local post & telegraph master E. J. Cornell, a staunch supporter of the new enterprise, was given the honour of printing off that initial Saturday, August 27, 1892 edition. Although not the first newspaper to be based in the township, it was the only one that survived for any length of time.

The population increase resulting from the gold rush had opened up opportunities for many new enterprises, & it soon became apparent that there was a demand for a local newspaper. To that end, the short lived Pambula Miner came into being. Published by a locally established company under the editorship of Mr. W. T. Campbell of the Bega Free Press office, the first issue hit the stands in November 1890, with the Bega Standard noting that “We have received the first issue of the Pambula Miner, a paper, we understand, to be devoted to Mining matters.”

An early photo of Pambula Voice staff in front of the newspaper office.
Image courtesy of the George Family Collection
Very shortly after, perhaps recognising the desire for news relating to Pambula’s goldfields & keen to retain their southern readership, the Bega Standard decided to instigate a regular column devoted to the topic. Within a month of the Pambula Miner’s appearance, the Standard commented that “It is our intention to have a short reference to the Pambula goldfields in each issue, as well as any local new affecting that part of the district, & so to keep the STANDARD up to what it has always been – the local paper. Mr. W. D. Neilley will act as our representative & have an office next to the AJS Bank, editing the Pambula news…” By February the following year, however, the Pambula Miner was already defunct.

Bega Standard office, circa 1899.
Image courtesy of the George Family Collection

Just two years later the Voice went into print, with the Bega Gazette commenting after receiving the first issue that “The publication of a paper on the spot will knock out the abortions which hitherto attempted the call themselves Pambula Newspapers…” going on to add “We wish its proprietor all sorts of good fortune in his venture.”

With subscriptions available for four shillings a quarter, or 16 shillings a year, in advance, local news dominated. Although mining, as expected, occupied a significant proportion of the column space for around two decades, weekly pieces were also devoted to snippets from all the outlying centres, including Greigs Flat, Nethercote, Lochiel, Millingandi, Eden, Towamba & Merimbula.

The rental cottage constructed for Pfeiffer as it appeared in the 1990s.
The family lived in the house now owned by Robyn & Greg Whitby.

© Angela George
Mr Pfeiffer, in his editorial at the end of the first year of operation, said "The people have been provided with a Voice of their own & - while we make no claim to infallibility - we believe that the Voice has given satisfaction."

In 1901, the Voice office & general printery moved into new premises on the corner of Toalla & Quondola Street, believed to be where the newsagents is now located, before later moving to a venue in Quondola Street, between where the Old Bank & Prumm’s Chemist are now located.

1899 subscription invoice for the Pambula Voice.
Courtesy of the George Family Collection

W. D. Pfeiffer continued as editor until November 1904, when he sold the business to George W. Hall of Bega. In his final editorial, he said of the new owner "This gentleman comes to the district with a lengthy newspaper experience & an honourable record as a private citizen. Mr Hall intends to conduct the paper on the same straightforward lines as here forth, & we conscientiously recommend him as worthy of every confidence & support, & trust the same liberal patronage that has been extended to us will be continued to him."

Shortly after this change, Eden also saw the establishment of another local paper. Founded by Leo Sheehy, the first edition of the Twofold Bay Magnet appeared in June 1908. Published with his brothers in an office thought to have been near the old Eden Post Office, it too was somewhat of a late runner in the Eden newspaper scene.

1904 account for W. D. Pfeiffer's Pambula Voice newspaper. 
Courtesy of the George Family Collection
It was in the wake of the activity inspired by the Kiandra gold rush that the first two publications made their appearances. Hartnett & Co established the Twofold Bay & Maneroo Telegraph in 1860, the local correspondent to the Empire noting in May that “…a newspaper, to be called the Twofold Bay & Maneroo Telegraph, is shortly to appear…” The first edition made its appearance in June, with the Empire again commenting “The first number of the Twofold Bay & Maneroo Telegraph, a weekly paper, of demy size, made its appearance on the 11th instant, & is likely to be of much service to the district…”  September saw management pass to Jeremiah Harnett, followed just a month later by William Shaw.

The same month saw J. R. Edwards commence the Twofold Bay & Maneroo Observer in competition with the Telegraph & after the first edition appeared on the 26th, the Ballarat Star noted “We have received the first two numbers of the Twofold Bay & Maneroo Observer, a new journal recently issued at Eden. This township can now boast of two newspapers, & they appear already to have commenced hostilities. The Observer is extremely well got up, & contains a great deal of news concerning local matters.”

The Magnet office.

December 1860 saw Richard Murphy take over the Twofold Bay & Maneroo Telegraph, but after publishing just a single issue, the business closed down. Edward continued to print his Twofold Bay & Maneroo Observer until March 1861, when he went into partnership with a Mr. Riall, but at the end of June that year, it too ceased production.

It wasn’t until May 1882, with the establishment by L. J. O’Toole of the Candelo & Eden Union that the town got another locally based newspaper. Editorship passed to Walter Wood in 1887, & in November that year the Union’s founder L. J. O’Toole, set up in competition with the Bega Enterprise & Eden Beacon. When it ceased publication in 1889, O’Toole again took the Union’s reigns until H. C. Darragh took over in November the following year.

When the new edited departed in August 1891, O’Toole once again stepped into the fray until 1894 when M. M. Emanual took over, followed by Whittington & Jonas for just a week in May 1895 & then Jonas & Tweedie until the end of January 1896, & Jonas & Schuback until December 1898.

In the meantime, W. T. Campbell had established the Eden Free Press in January 1897, continuing until the paper ceased operations in June 1899. A. H. Schuback was in sole control of the Candelo & Eden Union by January 1899, while in January 1904 H. E. Jonas had taken over. 1910 saw the publication incorporated into Candelo’s Southern Record.

Fabian Phillipps.
L. J. O’Toole tried his hand at yet another publication, establishing the Eden Propellor in December 1902, passing over to James Morgan in September 1903, & three weeks later, the paper became known as the Eden Observer, which Morgan continued until 1907, when it merged with the South Coast Advertiser.

Continuing to run the Magnet until 1915, Sheehy sold out to Rod Morris who, in turn passed ownership to Mr. G. R. Phillipps in 1919, around which time the name was changed to the Eden Magnet.  Mr. Phillipps carried on as editor until his death in 1939, when his son G. F. (“Fabian”) took over.

George W. Hall had continued to run the Pambula Voice until June 1910, when he sold out to Charles Arthur Baddeley. A tanner by trade, Baddeley employed J. B. Wilkins as manager of the enterprise from December 1911. Wilkins had taken over the stationary side of the business in 1902. A man of many skills, the new editor had turned his hand to various occupations before taking over the newspaper, including running South Pambula’s Eclipse Stores, owning & operating a farm at Bald Hills, working as secretary to various organisations including the Pambula Co-operative Creamery & Dairy Company & the Pambula Show Society & having some involvement in the local goldfields. He was also involved in a range of other community organisations, including being a foundation member of the local Masonic Lodge (Lodge Baddeley), the Eden-Pambula Cottage Hospital (later Pambula District Hospital), Pambula Progress Association & the School of Arts.

1910 sale agreement for the Pambula Voice between G. W. Hall & Charles Arthur Baddeley.
Courtesy of the George Family Collection

At a later date, Wilkins appears to have bought the Voice outright , & after his death in 1933, his son Edgar Claude took over, continuing as editor until selling to Eustace Phillipps of Eden in 1936. The new owner was the son & then later brother of the Eden Magnet’s editor.

1911 employment agreement between Charles Arthur Baddeley & John Bellamy Wilkins.
Courtesy of the George Family Collection
The last owner of the Pambula Voice as it then was, Eustace was to face many trials. By 1937, paper shortages meant that he was forced to indent stock from overseas, & he reported that “The cost of paper of all kinds has been rising sharply of late & further advances are predicted, with probably difficulty in securing newsprint.” Just two years later, World War II broke out, & with it came rationing & increasing shortages of many items, including both labour & paper. June 3, 1940 saw the Voice note that “...we are faced with two pressing problems: 1) The need of meeting wartime staffing & production difficulties imposed by wartime conditions; 2) The desire to give our clients wider service. These needs can & will be met by a complete reorganisation…”

Eustace Phillipps, Olga Smith & Allan ("Bubby") George Snr
outside the Pambula Voice office, circa late 1930s.

© The Estate of A. C. "Bubby" George. Courtesy of the George Family Collection
Responding to the ongoing difficulties, the Pambula Voice & the Eden Magnet were finally forced to amalgamate in 1941, becoming the Magnet-Voice & although production moved to the Eden office, ownership of the two papers remained local. Discussing the situation in 1974, Eustace noted “The merger was a matter of grim necessity.

Sealing the road in Quondola Street outside the Pambula Voice office.
© The Estate of A. C. "Bubby" George. Courtesy of the George Family Collection
"Numerous factors were involved, one of the chief being that the smallest papers were virtually rationed out of existence for newsprint & deprived of material for jobbing, the only papers & cards offered to them by the wholesalers being of colours & qualities that nobody else would touch.

"The death roll of country newspapers at that time was enormous, & we felt that, though I had set out on my own, under the circumstances an amalgamation was better than an ‘out’."

The old Pambula Voice office in Quondola Street, circa 1960s.
© The Estate of A. C. "Bubby" George. Courtesy of the George Family Collection
1946 saw the paper purchased by John Fairfax & W. B. Annabel, who sold out to John J. Stewart, & then in 1948 Doug Hepburn took over, remaining as owner & editor for two decades. Maxwell Newton then took control in 1968 until a syndicate made up of Kevin Turnbull & a number of local business people combined forces with the Bradley & Woods families of Temora & Queanbeyan.

Doug Hepburn, Magnet owner & editor between 1948 & 1968.
© Angela George
After the Southern Publishers group was sold to Dubbo based Macquarie Publications in 1985, Kevin remained in the editor’s chair until retiring in 1990, at which time Leanne Abernethy took on the job.

From the time of the amalgamation between the Magnet & the Voice, the paper’s name has changed several times, including the Magnet-Voice, & The Magnet & The Voice before finally carrying the Imlay Magnet banner.

© Angela George.

Australian Home Companion & Band of Hope Journal.
Australian Town & Country Journal.
Baddeley family records.
Ballarat Star.
Bega Gazette.
Bega Standard.
Candelo & Eden Union.
Eden Free Press.
Eden Magnet.
Eden Observer.
Eden Propellor.
Moreton Bay Courier.
Pambula Voice.
George, Allan (“Bubby”), Historic records, unpublished notebook.
George Family records.
Southern Record.
Twofold Bay & Maneroo Observer.
Twofold Bay & Maneroo Telegraph.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Time Traveller, I have recently stumbled upon your excellent work and simply felt I needed to say a big Thank you! Your work priceless. I found your blog whilst googling info. On the Pambula gold fields as I am a prospector. The photos are fantastic. I hope you are able to continue to write. Thank you