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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

Newspaper Press

Newspaper Press.

The Southland Daily News (Henry Feldwick and John Feldwick, proprietors), Dee Street, Invercargill. This journal made its first appearance on the 16th of February, 1861, under the proprietorship of the late Messrs George Smallfield and James Walker Bain. Its original title was “The Southern News and Foveaux Straits Herald,” and as such it was published weekly until the 26th of April, 1862, when the name was changed to the present title. The paper was still at first published twice weekly, but in the latter end of 1862 it became a triweekly journal. In the meantime Messrs Harnett and Company had become its owners. The “News” had its ups and downs, in the vicissitudes of Invercargill and Southland in the early days, and from Harnett and Co. it passed into the hands of Mr. William Craig and Mr. Robert Gilmour. Up to the end of March, 1876, it was issued three times a week, but in that year Mr. Henry Feldwick joined Mr. Craig, who had previously bought Mr. Gilmour's interest, and the “News” then became a daily evening paper. In May, 1877, Mr. Craig went out of the business, and Mr. John Feldwick entered into partnership with his brother, Mr. H. Feldwick. The office in Dee Street, is a brick building of one storey, and is lighted from the roof. The plant includes a sixteen horse power, a six horse power, and three and a-half horse power gas engines; Dawson two-feeder and single-feeder printing machines, also three linotype machines. The “News' is issued at 3.30 in the afternoon. It has four pages with nine columns on each page. Its politics are Liberal. The “News” is circulated throughout Southland, and is despatched in a dozen directions by the afternoon trains. As early as 1861, it was found necessary, in the interest of distant country residents, to issue a weekly journal, which is named the “Southlander,” and is published every Friday morning.

The Southland Times (Robert Joyce Gilmour, David John Gilmour and Douglas Gordon Gilmour trading as Robert Gilmour and Sons, proprietors), Esk Street, Invercargill. This well-known journal was founded in 1862, by Mr. C. G. Fitzgerald, in partnership with a Mr. Downes and others. Early in 1864, the paper's premises, were destroyed by fire, but it soon found another domicile. Mr. George Fisher, afterwards member of Parliament for Wellington, was the first foreman in charge. After the “Times” had become a triweekly it passed into the hands of the late Mr. J. W. Pain, who conducted it successfully till 1878, when the premises were again destroyed by fire. Soon afterwards several leading men in the town formed the Southland Times Company, and carried on the paper until it was purchased in 1896 by the late Mr. Robert Gilmour, who took his three sons into partnership in 1902. The present office in Esk Street was first entered in 1887. It was then a single-storey building, but a second storey was added at a later date. The whole building is in brick, and measures 32 by 100 feet. The public office, the private office of the proprietors, the machinery rooms and paper store are on the ground floor, and editorial rooms, jobbing composing and type-setting rooms are on the next floor. The plant includes a new Kelly two-feeder printing machine, and a new Kelly Wharfedale machine, besides a cylinder jobbing machine. There are also three modern type setting machines. The plaid is complete in every respect, not only for newspaper, but also for jobbing, work The “Times” prints four pages daily, with eight pages on Saturday, and there are nine columns, each twenty-five inches long on each page. A weekly paper known its the “Weekly Times,” contains forty pages, and is issued every Friday. The “Southland Times” receives first class Press Association service messages and is represented by a member of its own staff at all sessions of Parliament. It also maintains a well-organised staff of country correspondents, besides special writers for the various columns of sports and pastimes. Among the notable men who have been editors of the “Southland Times” may be mentioned Mr. Rous Martin. Mr. J. R. Cuthbertson. sometime member of Parliament. Mr. Thomas Denniston, father of Judge Denniston, Mr. George Smales Searle, afterwards for a time Secretary of the Bluff Harbour Board, Mr. John Chanticy Harris, and Mr. Robert Gilmour. The present proprietors have grown up in connection with the business, and each takes an active interest in the conduct of the paper.

Mr. Robert Gilmour , sometime Proprietor and Editor of the “Southland Times,” was the son of a Scottish farmer, and was born in 1831. He landed in Auckland, in 1850, but soon afterwards removed to Hawke's page 829 Bay, and early in the sixties he became a settler in Southland. For a time he had a farm in the Hokonui district, but as his tastes were literary, he removed to Invercargill, where he became a member of the staff of the “Southland Times,” and joined the late Mr. J. W. Bain in partnership. Later on Mr. Gilmour sold his interest in the “Times,” and joined the late Mr. W. Craig in the ownership of the “Southland News.” In time he sold his interest in the “News” also, and in 1873 he visited the Old Country, where he engaged in business for a few years. On his return to Invercargill, in 1879, he bought the interest of Mr. Chantrey Harris in the Southland Times Company, and became manager, with a seat on the Board of Directors. In 1886 he was appointed revising editor, and two years later he took full editorial control of the paper. This position he held till 1896, when he became sole proprietor. Mr. Gilmour took an intelligent interest in all local affairs, and was frequently a member of public bodies, He was at one time president of the Southland Hospital Board; was a vigilant member of the old Railway League, of the Southland Chamber of Commerce, and the Agricultural and Pastoral Association. He also took an interest in sports and pastimes, and was a member and president of the Caledonian Society, and the Burns' Club. Mr. Gilmour died in 1902, leaving three sons, the present proprietors of the business.

Mr. Thomas Denniston had a long connection with the “Southland Times,” first in the middle seventies when he was temporarily editor; then from 1879 till May, 1885, during which he was continuously editor; and afterwards for many years, sometimes as an occasional, sometimes as a frequent, contributor. He also held a proprietary interest in the paper for a number of years, before it was bought by his friend, the late Mr. Robert Gilmour, whose sons are now its owners. Mr. Denniston was born at Greenock, Scotland, on the 28th of March, 1821. His parents died while he was quite young, and he was brought up by his uncle, Mr. Thomas Farrie, of the well known sugar refining firm of Greenock, Liverpool and London. He attended the primary and high schools of his native town, and was for some years a student of Glasgow University. However, he did not graduate, as it had been decided that he should devote himself to a commercial life, and on leaving college he entered business in Glasgow as a sugar merchant in partnership with Mr. Bruce Richardson. Mr. Denniston married early in life, and in 1862, some years after the death of his wife, he gave up business on account of ill health, and sailed for New Zealand. He landed at Dunedin, but almost immediately removed to Southland, where he bought about 500 acres of land at Oteramika, and acquired an interest in the Hillend sheep run, above Centre Hush. Mr. Denniston returned to the Old Country at the end of 1864, but came back to New Zealand in January, 1867, and ever after continued to live in the colony, chiefly in Southland, in the affairs of which, in town and country, he ever took a sympathetic interest. He was for a number of years a number of the Southland Land Board, Southland Board of Education, president of the Teachers' Institute, one of the Otago School Commissioners, and was also a Justice of the Peace to the close of his life. Mr. Denniston once stood for the representation of Mataura in Parliament, in opposition to Sir Francis Dillon Bell, but without success; and though he was asked to stand on several other occasions for other constituencies, he preferred to keep outside the actual arena of politics in which, however, as a citizen and a journalist, he took a very keen interest. Mr. Denniston established the Mataura paper mills, at a loss to himself and to those who were commercially associated with him in the undertaking; but the industry has since proved successful, and its establishment, thirty years ago, was a proof of enterprise in its founder. Mr. Denniston died on Tuesday, the 14th of September, 1898, at Fendalton, Christchurch, where he had been living with his eldest son, Judge Denniston. Two days after his death it was well said of him by his own old paper, the “Southland Times” that “he was a man of warm temperament, of most scrupulous honour, generous to a degree, a firm friend, and courteous with the chivalry of a past age. His conscientiousness in the minutest particular was conspicuous in the discharge of every duty imposed or Undertaken, and his readiness to lend his aid to any laudable purpose kept him generally fully occupied when he might have been enjoying needed repose.” Another of his former fellow workers spoke of him as a man of wide reading, and of fine taste in literature; a man whose opinions, though partly the result of early social environment, were still more largely the product of convictions arrived at through a process of conscientious reasoning. He could fight, and he did fight for his party and principles, but he fought like a master swordsman, without fuss and without fury, and always with a remembrance that, after all, his adversaries were, like himself, human. Of him it could with truth be said—

He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one.

Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading; and young journalists who had the advantage of his companionship must have found him valuable as a guide and teacher in mental urbanity and purity of diction, and as a discloser of what was beautiful in the realm of literature.”

Near The Sounds, On The West Coast. Guy. photo.

Near The Sounds, On The West Coast. Guy. photo.

page 830

Mr. George Smales Searle , for some time editor of the “Southland Times,” was born at Saffron Walden, Essex, England, on the 27th of January, 1823. He received a good education, chiefly with a view to commercial life, but his own personal sympathies leant mainly to intellectual interests and mental culture; a characteristic which was shared by some of his brothers, one of whom, the Rev. Charles Searle, D.D., was Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, for twenty-one years. Mr. Searle arrived in Victoria, in 1851, soon after the first discovery of gold in that country. Like most new arrivals, he went straight to the goldfields, and was for a few months at Forest Creek. He, however, soon returned to Melbourne, where he was in business for a few years, and then revisited the Old Country, with the lady who in the meantime had become his wife. On returning to Victoria in 1856, Mr. Searle again went into business, but soon afterwards became connected with the press, of which he had had some experience, before his first departure from England, as a contributor to the “Westminster Review,” “Pall Mall Gazette,” and other periodicals and journals. His first editorship in Victoria was that of the “Ovens and Murray Advertiser,” at Beechworth, where he brought out a paper of his own in 1867. Mr. Searle subsequently went to Wangaratta, and became editor and part proprietor of the “Wangaratta Dispatch,” and afterwards owner of the “Wangaratta Star.” From Wangaratta he removed to Melbourne, where he wrote leading articles for the “Argus,” and other newspapers. While thus employed he was engaged by Mr. J. W. Bain to edit the “Southland Times,” and did so until he became Secretary of the Bluff Harbour Board, an office which he held for a number of years. He subsequently left Invercargill, and for a time resided with his family in Christchurch, where he wrote for the press of that city, and in various towns throughout the colony. From Christchurch Mr. Searle removed to Wellington, where he edited the “New Zealand Times” for a year; and, with one short intervening absence, he continued to reside there up to the time of his death, which occurred on the 16th of June, 1885. He was survived by his wife and three daughters, his eldest daughter and only son having predeceased him.

The Southern Cross is a weekly newspaper, published on Saturdays. It contains sixty-four columns, evenly divided between reading matter and advertisements. In politics it is independent, with Liberal tendencies. It is the property of Messrs J. Ward and Co., and has its office in Esk Street.