Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Amalgamated Press

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of The Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, E.C., publishers of Answers, London Magazine, and about fifty other periodicals, magazines and part publications.

Formerly Harmsworth Brothers, Ltd

1890 Alfred Harmsworth and his financially astute brother Harold launched Comic Cuts, a pictorial magazine aimed at adults who read little or nothing. Together the brothers built up the Amalgamated Press Company, whose profits soon reached £50,000 a year; within five years Answers alone was recording net weekly sales of more than 1 million copies.

The brothers were in the forefront of popular publishing with their magazines, which included Boys' Home Journal, Marvel, Boys' Friend, Home Sweet Home, and Home Chat.

By 1892 the firm's combined weekly sales figure was 1,009,067, the largest of any magazine company in the world.

1894 The Harmsworths moved into daily journalism when William Kennedy Jones persuaded them to buy the derelict Evening News for £25,000; with Kennedy Jones's help they made it into a profitable newspaper.

1896 Alfred Harmsworth showed that he had the ability and the nerve to take the new journalism at the tide, when he launched the Daily Mail, a perfect example of the newspaper for the busy man in the age of hurry. Harmsworth developed the means to satisfy their reading needs by using the new technology which could cut, fold, and count copies as well as printing them; between 48,000 and 90,000 copies an hour were produced. The first issue sold 397,213 copies, and net sales peaked at 989,255 in 1900, never falling below 713,000.

1896 Incorporated as a Limited Company.

1902 Set up a Manchester office, using a system of coding that enabled the staff to telegraph from London to Manchester letterpress, headings, and positions. Established in an empty schoolroom in Manchester two printing presses and twelve linotype printing machines, which applied the principle of the typewriter to the automatic casting of type, thus doing away with hand compositors.

1902 the firm moved into Carmelite House with 8 linotype rotary presses in the basement, producing savings of 35 per cent, halving the price of the paper and undercutting his nearest competitors. Harmsworth arranged a telegraph between the Mail in London and Le Journal in Paris.

1903 Founded the Daily Mirror but this failed

1904 Relaunched as the Illustrated Daily Mirror, and sales recovered

1926 Purchased by the Berry brothers from Lord Northcliffe's executors under the nose of Lord Rothermere, his younger brother.

Amalgamated Press published over 70 magazines, a highly lucrative encyclopaedia and book section, and in south London owned three large printing works and paper mills.

1937 The partnership of the Berry brothers in Allied Newspapers was amicably dissolved. Each partner needed a distinct raft of holdings to pass on to his heirs; Lord Camrose assumed sole control of the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, and Amalgamated Press; Lord Kemsley became proprietor of the Sunday Times.

1959 Acquired by the Mirror Group Newspapers, along with the George Newnes Co and Odhams Press; the three companies were merged to form International Publishing Corporation (IPC).

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Alfred Harmsworth, ODNB