The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
Plymouth's only local Sunday newspaper claims an ancestry going back to 1808, when the Plymouth and Dock Telegraph was founded. That newspaper had ceased in 1863 and had, in spirit if not entirely in fact, been taken over by the Devonport Independent.
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 Devonport Independent. The last issue under that name was dated August 21st 1891 and it then became the Western Independent. 
The paper was apparently published on Wednesdays and Saturdays at that time.
During his ownership, hiding under the name of "The Boy from the Back of Morice Square", he wrote a series of investigative articles about the slum housing conditions in the area around Morice Square and and followed that up with a pamphlet entitled "The Curse of Devonport". He died on July 11th 1908.
In 1912 Mrs Louise E A Whitfeld and her son, Mr Harry Whitfeld, sold the business to a newly formed company, Messrs Whitfeld and Newman Ltd. Mr Harry Whitfeld became the managing director, Mr William Newman became the business manager and Mr William Sowden, owner of the Carlton Hotel, in Saint Aubyn Street, Devonport, also became a director. They were pay Mrs Whitfeld a pension of £91 per annum for the rest of her life.
Mr Sowden died in 1914 and his widow, Mrs Mary Jane Sowden, replaced him as a director. At the same time Mr Newman resigned in order to join the army. Three years later Mrs Lilian Edith Nurton Whitfeld, Harry's wife, was allocated shares and joined her husband and Mrs Sowden as a director. Over the next couple of years several changes took place so that by March 1921 the main shareholder was a Mr Edward Bostock Smith, of Hayward's Heath, with the others being Mr Harry Whitfeld, Mr William Newman, Mr James Alfred Bush, of Palmer's Green, London, and Mrs Mary Jane Sowden, who just had £10 invested.
Sir Leicester Harmsworth bought and merged the Western Morning News and Western Daily Mercury in February 1921 so shortly afterwards, and certainly by March 15th 1922, Lord Astor acquired the Western Independent to prevent him getting his hands on that newspaper, too. Mr R A J Walling was appointed as editor.
In March 1960 it became simply The Sunday Independent.
Mirror Group newspapers bought The Sunday Independent in 1966 to use it as a training ground for young journalists. They formed a new company, West of England Newspapers, to manage it and ten other local weekly newspapers. 
On Friday February 12th 1982 it was announced that as the Monopolies Commission had required Reed International, who owned the Mirror Group, to sell West of England Newspapers. A consortium of Devonshire businessmen were to purchase the newspapers but lease the premises from the Mirror Group, who remained as owners. 
Heading the new operation was Mr Simon Day, a farmer and chairman of the Devon County Council Finance Committee. The managing director was to be Mr Brian Doel, the marketing director of West of England Newspapers. The other businessmen involved were: Mr James A Constable, senior partner in Messrs Constable & Son, chartered surveyors, and a justice of the peace; Mr George Creber, leader of Plymouth City Council and chairman of Devon County Council; Mr Dennis Cullum, senior partner of Messrs Cullum, White & Pawley, chartered accountants; Mr Len Hill, chairman of the South West Water Authority; Mr Bob Hussell, managing director of Plymouth Sound and chairman of Plymouth Exhibitions Ltd; and Mr Michael Thomas, a businessman involved with agriculture, warehousing and oil. The then editor and editorial director of the Sunday Independent, Mr John Clarke, did not remain with the new management. 
At the start of 1976 it was renamed the Western Sunday Independent and in 1984 it took on its present title of the Devon Independent.
Plymouth Central Library have copies from 1925 to date while the British Library Newspaper Library has a continuous run from 1912 and a good selection of earlier issues.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
Any problems viewing this webpage should be notified to the webmaster at plymouthdata dot info