Arbroath Herald celebrates 125th anniversary

IT was just four, A4-sized pages in size and only page three was devoted to news, when The Arbroath Herald first hit the streets on February 5 1885.

Celebrating its 125th birthday today, initially as a freesheet, the lead story of the launch issue carried news of inspections of local schools, with one – Keptie – described as “very unsatisfactory”.

But, says the paper today: “The Herald stood up for Keptie School, and the writer, almost certainly the [paper’s] proprietor, Mr John Brodie, wrote: “It appears from the report that the inspector has strong objections to the teaching of special subjects. This differs considerably from the attitude of Mr Mundella and other leading educationalists.

“Mr Brodie then observed: ‘For our part we find it hard to believe that a school which in past years has earned very high grants and passed so well, should in eight or nine months fall off to such an extent.’”

The largest advert, on the front page, was for harmoniums, American organs, organs and pianos – from five guineas to 36 guineas.

Brodie was originally from Selkirk, in the Scottish Borders, and served his apprenticeship with local firm, George Lewis & Son – printers, stationers, booksellers and publishers of The Southern Reporter newspaper. After rising to become the firm’s manager, he left to head up Aberdeen University Press.

He stayed in Aberdeen for just over two years and moved to Arbroath in 1880 to take over a stationer’s business. Despite a fire wrecking his premises after just two weeks, he rebuilt the business to including launching his newspaper.

It is now owned by the publishers of The Scotsman, Johnston Press.

When it celebrated its centenary in 1985, The Arbroath Herald attracted national newspaper coverage, plus from the BBC’s ‘Pebble Mill at One’ programme, BBC Radio Scotland and Tay Radio.

Its current editor is Brian Stormont, who was a reporter at the title between 1989 and 2002, before joining the Glenrothes Gazette. He returned as editor in January three years ago.

He succeeded Craig Nisbet, who had previously been the deputy editor at the St Andrews Citizen, who oversaw news appearing on the paper’s frong page, for the first time in its history, six years ago.

Nisbet succeed Colin Hume, who is now group editor of Johnston Press’s Scottish weekly titles, which includes Scotland’s biggest-selling weekly local: The Falkirk Herald.