The North Devon Journal and Local Politics

From the British Newspaper Archive:

On Friday, July 2 1824 the first copy of the weekly North Devon Journal was published in Barnstaple by local bookseller John Avery, costing 7d. The Avery family maintained a long association with the paper. It circulated throughout the North Devon area.

In September 1836 following a reduction in stamp Duty, the Journal’s price was reduced from 7d to 4d. In 1863 the price was dropped to 2d and in 1885 it fell to its lowest ever price of 1d.

A daily edition was produced briefly in 1870, and the same year the Journal printed a second edition to keep readers up to date with news of the Franco-Prussian War.

The Liberal Journal faced serious opposition with the appearance of Robert Lawrence’s North Devon Herald. Appearing in July 1870, it was an avowedly Conservative paper and priced at 1d, it was half the cost of the Journal. However both papers survived as separate entities until 1941 when The North Devon Journal amalgamated with the North Devon Herald to become the North Devon Journal Herald. It finally dropped Herald from the title when it changed from broadsheet to tabloid format in 1986.

The Majority of the newspaper cuttings shown in our Exhibition have come from the North Devon Journal, and the above quote goes someway to explain the difference in the reports of the two 1880 Elections – triumphant from the By-Election in February with many columns celebrating the Liberal Lord Lymington's victory, far more muted and with a shorter report in the General Election of April when the Conservative Sir Robert Carden topped the Poll ahead of Lord Lymington.

We do not have access to reports from the North Devon Gazette or North Devon Herald for that year.

Any assumption we had that the Munro Aunts would read the North Devon Journal, must be qualified because of this bias. If their politics were Conservative leaning, like their nephew's, then they would perhaps have been more likely to read the North Devon Herald.

It could of course also be the case that the Munro Aunts were Liberal, and Hector decided that he was Conservative because he wanted to be contrary – in which case it is possible that the By-Election newspaper report in the North Devon Journal is one they would have enjoyed.

The cuttings that have been shown in this Exhibition all come, with their permission, from the British Newspaper Archive.