Webpage created: February 20, 2016
Webpage updated: May 02, 2020
"THE DEVONPORT INDEPENDENT AND PLYMOUTH AND STONEHOUSE GAZETTE"
Although many of the Plymouth newspapers carried Devonport as part of their titles, only one paper was actually produced and printed in the Borough - The Devonport Independent and Plymouth and Stonehouse Gazette.
Published initially by Mr William Gilborn Byers, at 116 Fore Street, the first edition was issued on Saturday February 9th 1833. The price of the newspaper was seven pence, of which four pence was the newspaper stamp duty. It supported the Liberal political viewpoint. At first it was apparently compiled by purchasing a copy of "The Plymouth and Devonport Weekly Journal" and copying the news from it, which quickly upset the proprietors of that paper, of course.
Following the death of Mr Byers, the copyright and plant was first offered for sale but later sold at auction on Tuesday April 25th 1854 to a Mr Croydon for £310, it transpiring that he had purchased it on behalf of its manager, Mr Andrew William Boolds, who had himself bid £250. The other bidders were Mr Pridham, who went to £240, and Mr Latimer, who went to £260. The auctioneer bid £300 but was out-bid by Mr Croydon. The list of type that formed part of the sale is of interest: nonpareil, minion, bourgeois, double pica and some "fancy type". The plant consisted of a Napier Patent Gripper Machine, a Royal Columbian Press and a Double Royal Columbian Press with inking tables and rollers.
Under Mr Boolds' management, which started with the issue of Saturday May 13th 1854, the paper's standing in the community soared. It was increased in size to eight pages and the price was eventually brought down to one penny. He moved the office to Saint Aubyn Street, stared to issue an edition on Wednesdays and opened a branch office at number 5 Frankfort Street in Plymouth.
The imposition of newspaper tax, whereby the proprietor had to purchase a stamp for each copy, meant that the circulation of that paper was common knowledge. It was claimed by the "Exeter and Plymouth Gazette" in 1866 that the circulation of the "Devonport Independent" was 4,729 copies compared to their own 83,714 copies.
In 1891, with the help and support of some of his political friends, Mr Henry Francis Whitfeld formed the Devon and Cornwall Newspaper Company in order to acquire the newspaper. The last issue as the Devonport Independent and Plymouth and Stonehouse Gazette was dated Saturday August 29th 1891 and from Saturday September 5th 1891 it became "The Western Independent".