great southern herald
The Great Southern Herald is Katanning’s oldest surviving business having produced its first edition on 5 October 1901. Due to various circumstances the newspaper has moved premises and changed owners several times. It is currently owned by Albany Advertiser Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of West Australian Newspapers (Seven West Media).
The Katanning Stock and Trading Company is the oldest business still in its original position. It started in 1905 as A.E. Piesse & Co. and become Katanning Stock & Trading Company in 1905.
You can read about and see the FIRST EDITION (5/10/1901) HERE
Since 1901, readers in Katanning and surrounding districts have had a regular newspaper service.
The Great Southern Herald has the distinction of being Katanning’s oldest still-operating business.
throughout its more than 115 years, changes of ownership, management, fires, and the need for expansion have seen the Herald operate from a variety of premises.
The first edition, dated October 5, rolled off the presses in Albany in 1901.
After that initial edition, and until 1979, all editions were printed in Katanning.
The change of venue in that year was the result of a switch from the traditional letterpress (or hot lead) method to offset production.
Letterpress allowed the lead plate to leave an impression of a ‘negative’ image on the paper similar to a rubber stamp working.
Offset printing uses an aluminium or paper plate, combined with chemicals and water, which transfers a ‘positive’ image from the plate via a ‘blanket’ attached to a second cylinder to the paper.
The dateline was changed from Friday to Thursday to allow the newspaper to be on sale earlier.
Local businesses could advertise their wares for those farm people coming in to shop on Fridays and Saturdays.
Several years later the dateline was changed again to a Wednesday as Thursday shopping became popular.
At that time the paper was written and set into type in Katanning and was printed in Albany at the Albany Advertiser.
Today, most of the writing and typesetting is still carried out in Katanning, however the final pre-press and production is now carried out in Perth by West Australian Newspapers, a part of Seven West Media.
The changeover saw the Herald strengthen its position as a solid institution in the local community.
The railways were blamed for that first edition in 1901 being printed in Albany.
The work was meant to done in Katanning but the equipment did not arrive in time.
Type and paper were railed to the Albany Advertiser and freshly printed copies returned for circulation on the planned date of October 5, 1901.
The Great Southern Herald was set up by Mr Stevens of York with Mr E Mitchell the editor.
The entire staff, a solitary hand press and a limited range of handset type were housed in the back of a small shed owned by Carl Wanke, at the corner of Clive and Conroy streets where a service station now sits.
Sixty-seven years and several moves later the business was moved into new purpose-built premises diagonally opposite its original site and where it is located today.
During the first five years of the paper’s existence it passed through the hands of three owners with each change bringing a new location.
The early editions are almost unrecognisable to today’s version.
People did not have access to world events and the Herald brought local, national, and international news to its readers.
Shortly after the Herald was set up it was bought by government surveyor W Bede Christie.
Mr Longston was appointed editor and the plant moved into a Clive Street shop owned by Mr John Wanke.
The next change of ownership and address came when the paper was bought by Melbourne journalist, John Tremourne, who moved the plant into an Austral Terrace building owned by Frederick and Charles Piesse.
Then at the beginning of 1906 the business was bought by Sydney journalist, Mr J Cullen.
But at the end of the year the business and everything connected with it was destroyed.
Fire gutted an entire block of wood and iron buildings in Austral Terrace.
The loss was severe but Mr Cullen took immediate steps to replace the plant.
Temporary accommodation was found in a tin shed in the back of the Katanning Flour Mill.
The destroyed building was replaced with by a two-story structure and the paper was moved back to its former site.
About ten years later the Herald was to suffer the ravages of yet another fire.
According to Bill Synnott, long time editor and owner of the paper, a fire broke out in an adjoining building causing yet another bout of devastation.
To this day the Herald has only one copy of its publications from the first 17 years of production although copies are held by the Battye Library in Perth and can be accessed via the website Trove.
Happily, it is a copy of the first edition found in early 1990 in an old safe.
The Herald’s owner, Mr Cullen, was elected MLC representing the South East Province, a position he held until his death in 1917.
His son-in-law, Inglis Synnott, gave up his farming interests and, although he had no journalistic experience, took over the running of the paper.
In 1923 the Herald undertook yet another move.
New premises were built in Austral Terrace with a print shop at the rear.
The only remaining evidence of that building is the print shop which is now used by the Royal Exchange Hotel as a drive-through bottle shop.
Another milestone was in 1936 when another local newspaper, the Southern Districts Advocate, was purchased and the two papers amalgamated.
In 1939 the paper became the first provincial publication in WA to adapt the now customary tabloid sheet size.
At that time, it ceased to publish on a twice-weekly basis and became a weekly.
Another generation of the Synnott family, Bill Synnott, joined the paper in 1949 when he returned from overseas war service.
He became managing editor in 1949 and sole owner in 1955.
The activities of the business, both in publication and commercial printing, continued to grow and, during the next ten years, the Austral Terrace premises were expanded three times.
Older style machines and equipment were gradually replaced.
The need for larger premises became urgent and, in 1966, the present location at 49 Clive Street was bought.
The Great Southern Herald moved into the new modern premises the following year and has remained there ever since.
Mr Synnott sold the Herald in 1973 to Albany Woollen Mills, which was owned by TVW Ltd.
The Herald is now part of the Albany Advertiser Pty Ltd Group, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of West Australian Newspapers Ltd (Seven West Media).
Some of the equipment now sitting idle in the Great Southern Herald factory:
Heritage Council of Western Australia
Great Southern Herald