CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 2770
TitleAberdeen Journals Ltd. papers
Date1876 - 1978
Extent31 volumes, 28 boxes, 6 bundles and 1 outsize roll: 11 linear metres
Creator NameAberdeen Journals Ltd (1928 - )
Aberdeen Newspapers Ltd (1922 - 1928)
Aberdeen and North of Scotland Newspapers and Printing Company Ltd (1876 - 1922)
Administrative HistoryAberdeen Journals publishes two daily newspapers, the 'Press and Journal' and the 'Evening Express', and has a distribution area covering the north of Scotland.

The company can trace its roots back to Jan 1748, when James Chalmers (1713 - 1764), official printer to Aberdeen, published the city's first weekly news-sheet, 'The Aberdeen's Journal'. His newspaper, which remained family-run until 1876, held a monopoly on newspaper sales in Aberdeen until the establishment of the 'Aberdeen Free Press' in 1853. The 'Free Press' (as it came to be known) began producing a weekly newspaper which matched the Journal in content, style and price, developing a solid distribution base and creating real competition in its first year of trading. In 1865 they took the bold step of increasing publication to twice-weekly, and in 1872 increased this to daily. The Journal did not have sufficient funds to begin daily publication, and in order to meet this challenge sold the paper, premises and plant to form the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company in 1876.

This was the beginning of a period of nearly fifty years of direct competition between the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company, and the Aberdeen Free Press. Both were now producing a daily morning paper, the 'Daily Journal' and the 'Free Press', respectively; and from 1879 production also began on daily evening papers, the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company leading the way with their 'Evening Express' and the Free Press following months later with the 'Evening Gazette'.

During the 1880s, sales of the 'Daily Journal' slumped badly, and in 1889 the 'Free Press' offered to buy the paper from the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company for a sum of £4,000. The offer was rejected and in 1890 the company was put back on an even keel by a £10,000 legacy from the will of John Gray Chalmers, great-grandson of the company's founder, James Chalmers. This permitted expansion and development of what had become a rather old-fashioned rival to the younger and more liberal 'Free Press'. In 1894 the company purchased new premises in Broad Street, Aberdeen, and embarked upon a process of investment in new printing machinery, advertising, and the establishment of its own delivery fleet.

After the First World War both companies suffered from falling sales, and in 1919 the Free Press building on Union Street was badly damaged by fire. These circumstances prompted their amalgamation, and in November 1922 a new company called Aberdeen Newspapers Limited was formed. The new company continued to operate from the Broad Street premises, discontinuing production of the 'Evening Gazette', and combining the two morning papers into one - 'The Aberdeen Press and Journal'. The new paper had no political allegiance, priding itself on giving even coverage to all parties, and established itself quickly and well. In 1928 the new company was threatened by a hostile take-over bid from Northcliffe, parent company of the Daily Mail, who wished to expand their business into Aberdeen. Unwilling to be consumed by such a large national concern, but realising that they were unlikely to survive independently for much longer, Aberdeen Newspapers looked for a more suitable partner. They approached Allied Newspapers Limited in 1928, and in September of that year an agreement was reached: Aberdeen Newspapers Limited went into voluntary liquidation, and a new company, Aberdeen Journals Limited was formed.

Allied Newspapers invested heavily in their new subsidiary, and both staff and customers benefitted - staff from increased wages and improved working conditions, and customers from a fuller coverage of national and international news. Aberdeen Journals Limited remained at Broad Street until 1970, when they moved to new premises at Lang Stracht, one of Aberdeen's new industrial estates in the west of the city.

For more information see: George Fraser and Ken Peters, 'The Northern Lights' (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1978) and Norman Harper, 'First Daily: a 250-year celebration of the Press and Journal', (Aberdeen: Aberdeen Journals, 1997).
Custodial HistoryThe records were surveyed by Colin McLaren, University Archivist and Area Representative of the National Register of Archives (Scotland), between March and May 1970. At this time they were stored in the Aberdeen Journals offices at Broad Street, Aberdeen.
SourceDeposited in the University Library in March 1970 by W.P. Forsyth, Assistant Managing Director, Aberdeen Journals Ltd. Additional deposit in Apr 1978.
DescriptionThis deposit comprises business records of Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its predecessors, Aberdeen Newspapers Ltd, and Aberdeen and North of Scotland Newspapers and Printing Co. Ltd. A full set of minutes survives for each company, though those for Aberdeen Journals Ltd have been deposited only to 1943. The survival of financial papers has been less consistent, but for each company includes a representative sample of records. There are also legal, trade union, correspondence and personnel files present.

Records of production survive for Aberdeen Newspapers Ltd and Aberdeen and North of Scotland Newspapers and Printing Co. Ltd for the cumulative period 1912 - 1927. These take the form of volumes recording circulation, spoils and costs of production for 'Aberdeen Journal', 'Evening Express', 'Weekly Journal', 'Fishing News' and 'Poultry News'.

The records of Aberdeen Journals Ltd. include a large series of subject-based files relating to news reports and other matters. Topics of interest identified include the general election, 1935; Aberdeen Football Club South Africa Tour, 1937; Battle of France, 1940 - 1941 and Foot and Mouth Disease, 1952. There are also individual files for each of the newspapers and magazines printed by the company during this time.
ArrangementListing of this collection is not complete. An interim summary list is available.

Volumes -

Aberdeen and North of Scotland Newspapers and Printing Company Ltd. (1876 - 1922) - volumes 1 - 10 and 14 - 15.
Aberdeen Newspapers Ltd. (1922 - 1928) - volumes 11 - 12 and 16 - 18.
Aberdeen Journals Ltd. (1928 - ) - volumes/bundles 13 and 19 - 37.

Boxes -

Legal, Financial, Shareholder, Trade Union and Employer Agreements, Personnel and Libel, Correspondence, Subject Files, Production and Promotion.
Access StatusRestricted
Access ConditionsSome records contain personal information and may be closed for 75 (for adults) and 100 (for children 16 and under) years under the Data Protection Act (1998). See boxes 48 & 49 specifically.
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related MaterialNewspapers published by Aberdeen Journals are held in the University Library, and some ephemeral printed material is held in the University pamphlet collections. Full reference details can be found in the Aberdeen University Library Catalogue.
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