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End of an era for old Observer office

THE fate of the historic Accrington Observer offices on Edgar Street was revealed this week.

THE fate of the historic Accrington Observer offices on Edgar Street was revealed this week.

Workmen have erected scaffolding around the former offices which are set to be demolished.

Work is underway to tear down the building exactly 116 years to the month since the very first copy of the Accrington Observer hit the streets.

The Toulmin family, who came from Preston, started the paper in 1887 and they also owned the Preston Guardian and Blackburn Times.

Accrington used to have three local newspapers - the Accrington Times, the Accrington Gazette and the Accring-ton Observer.

Richard Crossley bought the Observer from the Toulmin family and four months later, in April 1892, purchased the Times and amalgamated it with the Observer thus creating the old Accrington Observer and Times series.

Four generations of his family worked on the paper and there have been five editors of the Observer, with the current editor Mervyn Kay becoming the youngest editor when he succeeded Frank Kitchener in 1979 at the age of 31.

The Edgar Street building became the home to the Observer at the turn of last century after it was formerly produced from an office and print works in Peel Street, which later became the home of the Maypole Dairy.

It then moved for a short period to Abbey Street before moving to Edgar Street under the ownership of the Crossley family.

The newspaper was eventually taken over by the Guardian Media Group in 1989 when it was moved just round the corner into Blackburn Road.

Attempts to find a buyer for the old building have failed so the decision was made for the building to be torn down and this week saw contractors Walter Forshaws, of West Houghton, near Bolton, move in to start demolition work.

Richard Crossley, whose great great grandfather took the paper over, said it was the end of an era.

He said: "I'm sad to see the building go and it's a shame they haven't been able to bring in anyone to do something with it.

"It's a very old building and it has suffered from the ravages of time and dry rot. There's a collection of buildings there. One of them used to be a house. There also used to be a garage at the back and I think one section used to be a stable."

The site manager George Horsfall said the demolition work would take approximately 10 weeks and a team of up to seven workmen are now hard at work clearing the rooms, including the giant printing press.

He said: "There's all sorts of things in the building like old papers, tables and chairs. We're going to remove the stone flags out of the cellars. Then we will take down the slates so it's a big project.

"The building is in a bit of poor state and the timber has perished. It's seen it's lifetime out and there's a lot of dry rot. It's a big maze really, there are lots of different rooms."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist