The Bailey Newspaper Group

After a long period away from his home town of Dursley, Frederick Bailey returned to the town and four years later in 1878 the very first edition of "The Dursley, Berkeley and Sharpness Gazette" was printed and distributed in the area. The Gazette wasn't the first paper in the town as "The Dursley Advertiser" and "The Dursley Express, Wotton Guardian and Berkeley Gazette" had both been tried and failed. Perhaps the time was right or the right person was behind it in Frederick Bailey as today, in 2003, it is still going strong.

The first few months of production saw "The Gazette" being printed in Gloucester but due to problems Frederick and his son, Albert, took over the printing although where this was done remains something of a mystery. In 1892 though, the company moved to a new office in Kingshill Road where it would stay for over 70 years. Printing of the early broadsheets was carried out on very primitive machinery which was prone to frequent breakdown. At the end of the 19th century the press was powered by a gas engine which actually survived through to the 1930's.

News articles from Dursley Gazette, August 2nd 1879

After the turn of the 20th century Albert Bailey took an increasing role in the company, performing the role of both reporter and editor. He soon decided that a new press was required and a Linotype machine was installed in 1903. This machine served the company well and greatly improved the speed and reliability of production.

Albert died in 1922 and the role of editor was taken over by his son, Fred after which a period of expansion began. Further printing presses were installed, in particular a modern Cossar machine, and the business became a limited company, F. Bailey & Son Ltd.

During World War II, production of the Gazette suffered from paper shortages and the call up of many of its staff. Different editions began to come out after the war, one for Filton in Bristol, another for Kingswood and yet others for Wotton-under-Edge, Chipping Sodbury, Berkeley, Thornbury plus a Gloucestershire edition which with Dursley made eight in total.

The printing firm of Bloodworth and Pepworth was taken over in 1946 and their premises in Long Street were used as a dark room for a number of years. In 1959 further expansion of the site in Kingshill Road was made to accommodate extra Linotype machines. Derek Archer took over editorship of the Dursley Gazette in 1961 after the death of the long-standing previous editor Bert Hughes.

In 1964, expansion was in order and to cater for this the old Reliance Works previously occupied by the carpet manufacturers John B. Champion & Sons was acquired and demolished to make way for a purpose-built building. The move to the new buildings actually occurred at Easter 1966 leaving the old building in Kingshill Road to be taken over, first by P.H. Douglas and then by the Dursley Garage.
Reliance Works in Long Street, Sep. 1st 2002
Copyright Andrew Barton

Expansion continued through the 1960s and the 1970s. Further printing presses were purchased in 1971 and towards the end of the decade new offices were opened as part of the company's centenary celebrations. Shortly afterwards, in the early 1980s there began a series of industrial actions which saw management performing the roles of printers, journalists and photographers alike. Things turned around though, further newspaper acquisitions occurred in 1987 together with the acquisition of a new press capable of full-colour production.

Peter Bailey was made chairman of the new executive board in 1982 and the name of the company was changed to the Bailey Newspaper Group. Fred Bailey died in 1989 and a new managing director was appointed, the first time a family member had not been in control. Around this time a long period of widespread recession began which resulted in many changes. Computerisation and use of photosetting brought with it advances in speed and efficiency but had the downside that there were some reductions in staff. The last of the old Linotype machines was scrapped in 1986 and the influx of personal computers began. 1986 was significant in another way as it was the year that The Dursley Gazette was first printed in tabloid form.

Moving into the 1990s and the 21st century has seen continuing challenges and change, both in terms of ever advancing technology and the company's administration. The use of computers is now endemic, as everywhere else. One of the most recent changes, in 1997, saw the Bailey Newspaper Group sold to Newscom which was then bought by the Newsquest Media Group in 2000, itself part of an international company.

The Gazette is still going strong in Dursley. Although newspapers are no longer printed in the town and the printing works were demolished in 2003, all editorial, journalistic and administrative work continues in the town. Hopefully for many years into the future.