THE first issue of the Wellington Weekly News appeared in the shops on November 15, 1860 from printing works situated in South Street in the town.
It was founded by local businessman Richard Corner who was taking advantage of the increase in literacy brought about by the spead of universal education during the second half of the19th century.
This was before the age of mass-circulation national newspapers, so early editions of the WWN included national and international news as well as information on events in a wide area of Somerset and neighbouring Devon. Naturally, a large amount of space was give to the Boer War and the First World War, and the WWN gave news of the defeats and victories during that time.
Over the years, the paper had a number of owners, but a notable one was Mr JH Jackson who became editor/proprietor in 1912, a position he maintained until 1933. It was in 1920 that Mr Jackson took the major step in installing a monotype systen for the setting and casting of type, thereby saving a a great deal of time spent on setting up the news columns. He also ensured that the paper continued to come out during the 1926 General Strike.
The WWN remained in local ownership until 1944 when it was acquired by the Tiverton Gazette and Associated Papers Ltd, chaired by Sir Harold Harmsworth. This later became part of the giant Northcliffe Group, the publisher of the Daily Mail, and the paper stayed part of that group until 2006. A particularly difficult time for the WWN was the Second World War when shortage of newsprint meant it had to be printed in tabloid form with front page news. It was not until 1959 that it returned to its familiar broadsheet format with advertisements on the front page. It was to be some years before the WWN again became the tabloid we know today and large headlines started to appear on the front page.
By the time of the paper’s centenary in 1960, things were getting back to normal and a special eight page supplement was produced to celebrate the event. It included messaged from the Queen, the Duke of Wellington and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
During that post-war period, the WWN owed a great deal to its long serving editor, Lloyd Jefferies and chief reporter Tony Brown. As local people, they both had a fund of knowledge which enabled the paper to fully reflect the life of the town. Among the reporters who worked for the paper during that time were Adam Helliker, later to become a Fleet Street columnist; Clinton Rogers, now a popular local TV presenter; Richard Cottrell, one time MEP for Bristol, and Ken Bird who went on to become editor of the Taunton-based Somerset County Gazette. For many years, the paper came out on Wednesday lunchtime and its popularity was shown by the number of people waiting in the town centre for it to arrive on the newstands.
Until 2000, the WWN was run from Tiverton but in that year, management of the paper was tranferred to Taunton where it was run in conjunction with the Taunton Times.
It was then that the paper was relaunched under the editorship of Jon Hancock, who substantially increased the number of pages and introduced more colour, bringing a growth in circulation.
In November 2006 a reorganisation of the Northcliffe group resulted in the WWN being taken over by Tindle Newpapers, an independent company based in Farnham, Surrey, and one of the largest family-owned newspaper groups in the land, and under the ownership of Sir Ray Tindle it has continued to give full coverage to all the local news and sport.
Ever since it was founded, the Wellington Weekly News has prided itself on its solid reporting of the news, and in 2010, the newspaper will celebrate an important anniversary as it marks 150 years of serving the people and communities of the area.