Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 16, 2016.
Webpage updated: March 16, 2016

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Although Worth stated in his history of Devonport published in 1870 that when "The Plymouth and Dock Telegraph" was started in 1808 it was the only newspaper in the Three Towns, this was incorrect because it had been beaten to the press by "The Plymouth Chronicle and General Advertiser for the West of England".

The circumstances which brought this about were related by Whitfeld in 1900, who says there was some indignation when the publishers, Messrs B Haydon and P Nettleton, of Plymouth, and Mr T Huss, of East Stonehouse, found this out because they had ordered their equipment and type some twelve months previous but the most important part of the equipment only arrived on the Monday night, shortly after "The Plymouth Chronicle" had appeared on the streets. 

"The Plymouth and Dock Telegraph" was printed at 52 Fore Street, Plymouth-Dock, by Mr L Congdon.  It was first published on Saturday March 19th 1808.  The newspaper comprised of one folded sheet of four pages, with five sixteen inch columns on each page.  The original price was six pence (6d) per copy, of which one and a half pence (1d) was stamp duty.

Of practical interest is the fact that the pre-stamped printing paper came by road from the Stamp Duty Office in London and that when, in January 1809, the roads were inundated with flood water, the paper did not arrive and part of that week's issue had to be printed on blank, unstamped paper.

A change in the Stamp Duty raised it to five pence per copy but the newspaper was only allowed to increase its price from 6d to 6d.

The depression that followed the end of the Napoleonic War caused the failure of "The Plymouth Chronicle" and in 1816 its rival therefore cunningly renamed itself "The Plymouth and Dock Telegraph and Plymouth Chronicle".