About us

About the paper

The Stratford Press is published every Wednesday and delivered free to every home in Stratford, Eltham, Inglewood and all rural areas bounded by Tahora in the east, Kaponga in the west, Egmont Village to the north and Te Roti in the south.

The content of the paper is typically local Stratford news, sports and human interest, with rotational supplements including Rural News and Behind the Wheel and feature editions such as On the land, A & P Show and a Christmas Edition.

Community support is what papers such as Stratford Press are all about, informing locals about what is going on, celebrating the unsung heroes and providing a positive outlook when the chips are down.

All those who have been associated with the Press over the years know that it has its own spirit, its own heartbeat and it is looked on with pride and affection, a friend that arrives in the family lounge each Wednesday evening for a chat.

History

Stratford Press began life as the Mountain Town News in 1958 when Keith Anderson went into partnership with Fred Kilburn to produce one of the country's first free community newspapers.

The birth of the eight-page newspaper was an event of great significance for the town which had once boasted a daily evening paper 20 years before.

The newspaper was a survivor. It changed its name and the technology which produced it, but retained its identity, right to the present day.

The idea for a community newspaper for Stratford actually began before 1958. Some years before when Keith Anderson was a printing trade apprentice at the Broadway Printing Office, his boss received a visit from the local Rotary Club. He overheard some of the delegates discussing the possibility of starting up a local paper and Keith filed it away.

That particular scheme did not eventuate, the many technical difficulties appearing too great at the time.

After finishing his apprenticeship, Keith moved to New Plymouth where he worked as a printing machinist for the Daily News.

Eventually he moved back to Stratford, becoming a business partner with his former Broadway Printing boss, Fred Kilburn. At the back of his mind was the nagging idea of starting up a newspaper.

The scheme was revived following a chance meeting in the street between Keith, Hoddie Hodgson and Mac McCutcheon, which got around to the topic of... you guessed it ....a newspaper for Stratford.

Keith went back to his partner to discuss the idea of a small, news sheet for the district, perhaps four tabloid pages once a month.

Fred agreed with the proposal, providing Keith took over responsibility for the venture.

Hoddie Hodgson and Mac McCutcheon and other Rotary Club members were keen on the idea and began drumming up support among the business members in case the paper eventuated.

It wasn't easy to get off the ground and later Keith Anderson said that it probably would not have survived without the assistance of the local Rotary Club.

Eight pages were delivered free to 2000 homes each week. It was the first free community newspaper to be published outside the main metropolitan areas.

"It looked good on the outside," commented Keith in a Press interview in the late 90s, "but behind the scenes it was bedlam at its best."

An old hand-fed press was used almost continuously for the paper. Sheets were hand-fed into the press at the rate of 1000 an hour at two pages a time, starting Wednesday afternoon and going to Friday morning.

Six months after the Press first hit the streets, the company was able to purchase its own linotype machine which eliminated the need to send copy to Palmerston North. The paper began to grow, too fast in fact because it became too big for the available equipment. The hand-fed press moved at snail's pace and couldn't keep up with demand.

A new Italian press was purchased. The Mountain Town News was laid to rest on December 15, 1959 and in February, 1960 the locals were greeted by the 'Stratford Press'.

Everything was looking rosy for the Press until disaster struck.

On the night of July 20, 1962 the printing factory was razed to the ground. After a blow like that the paper should have folded, but the next Thursday, Stratford Press was back on the streets with its biggest-ever headline, 'DOWN BUT NOT OUT'.

The community rallied around the paper and helped save it. The Stratford Borough Council held a special emergency meeting the night after the fire, with Keith Anderson in attendance. Through the efforts of the council, an old bakery building in Miranda Street was made available. Offers of help came from New Plymouth and Hawera newspapers.

Keith and Allan accepted the offer to print at Hawera and spent long hours ensuring the paper got out on time.

The heavy lead printing forms were set up in the old bakery. An old Fordson van struggled to Hawera with the forms each Wednesday afternoon and struggled back with the forms and 5000 copies of the Press.

Soon after Ken Hodson became a shareholder in the company and between the two working partners and the other shareholder, Brian Tobin, the company planned a rebuild on Broadway.

Keith took over the editorship in 1962, which he retained until 1971.

A new Goss Community offset press was installed in 1967. It was the first to be installed by a community paper and the fourth in the country. This new method of printing brought with it many technical changes. New photo processing equipment had to be installed. It is in this form that the Stratford Press continued to prosper with the continued support of the community it serves.

When the mountain beckoned, Keith Anderson sold his interest in Stratford Press to his former shareholders. Ken Hodson became Manager.

With the untimely death of Ken, his wife Rosemary took over the reins.

In 1981 ownership of the company was taken over by Laurence Bunyan, Gloria Webby and Russell Smith.

Russell parted company with Laurence and Gloria in 1988 to open his own print business, Jago Print.

Stephen Coleman returned from Auckland to fill the vacancy left by Russell Smith.

On April 1, 2006 the paper was purchased by APN New Zealand Ltd when the company was owned by Stephen and Carey Coleman and Laurence and Rhonda Bunyan. While all advertising, editorial and pagination is retained by Stratford staff, the paper is printed in Wanganui.

From humble beginnings with a circulation figure of 2000, to over 9000, all who have been associated with the 'Stratty' Press over the past 47 years can reflect with a great deal of pride on their achievements.

Today, the Stratford Press is located on Broadway North and still an integral part of the community.

Community support is what papers such as Stratford Press are all about, informing locals about what is going on, celebrating the unsung heroes and providing a positive outlook when the chips are down.

All those who have been associated with the Press over the years know that it has its own spirit, its own heartbeat and it is looked on with pride and affection, a friend that arrives in the family lounge each Wednesday evening for a chat.

- Stratford Press

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