Marlborough's first newspaper
Timothy Millington and George Coward, two Englishmen who came to Marlborough via Australia and Nelson, started the Marlborough Province’s first newspaper in Blenheim, or the Beaver, on 6 January 1860. This was the Marlborough Press and County of Sounds Gazette.
The following year, when Picton became the capital of the Province and the Provincial Government moved to Picton, the newspaper followed suit and set up an office in upper High Street, on the site now occupied by the Z petrol station. The original building was later replaced by a more modern building.
Millington and Coward’s partnership ended in 1865, and ownership of the paper passed to Alfred Thomas Card (whose memorial is the fated paddling-pool on Picton Foreshore). After him was Richard Hornby – his efforts were described as ‘one of the liveliest specimens of journalism ever issued in Marlborough.’ George W. Nicol and Hans Christian Madsen took over the Press in 1904, and continued to run the paper until 1943. The competing paper, Marlborough Express, began publication in 1866, and made the occasional attack on its rival, which it once described as ‘suffering from a severe bilious attack.’
On Saturday 6 August 1921, a fire broke out in the Marlborough Press buildings, which were practically destroyed. The shop and residential portion of the building, utilised as offices and storerooms, were totally destroyed, but the machinery departments were saved. Nicol and Madsen continued running the paper until 1943, when Mr S. Davey purchased it; he continued until 1949, when the Marlborough Express purchased the plant.
Unfortunately most copies of the Press were lost in the fire, and many more went to the dump. Mike Taylor, former President of Picton Historical Society, heard at the RSA one evening that, while the old Seymour house was being demolished (on the present Mariners Mall site), the cellar of the old George Hotel was found underneath. In it were bundles of the Marlborough Press, tied up with ribbons, as well as all the Seymour papers and letters. All had been loaded on to a truck and taken to the dump. Mike went up there and broke through the gate with a crowbar, but was able to rescue only a few copies – the rest had been bulldozed into a slurry. Picton Museum has those few copies, some 200 pages of which have been transcribed, and there are a few more in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.
This story was first written by Loreen Brehaut for the Seaport Scene (updated August 2020)
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Further sources - Marlborough's first newspaper
- Scholefield, G.H. (1958) Newspapers in New Zealand (Wellington: Reed, 1958)
- George Stenhouse's explanation (1868, January 11) Marlborough Express, pp.2-3
- The late T.W. Millington (1883, September 4) Marlborough Express, p.2
- The Marlborough Press and the Picton election (1868, May 16), Marlborough Express, p.4
- Personal [Alfred Thomas Card] (1919, September 13) Marlborough Express, p. 4
- Marlborough Express. Retrieved from Wikipedia, 22/11/2016:
- Marlborough Express. Retrieved from Papers Past, 22/11/2016
- Marlborough Press. Retrieved from Papers Past, 10/8/2020