The Falkirk Herald celebrates its 170th birthday

The first edition of The Falkirk Herald, published on August 11, 1845
The first edition of The Falkirk Herald, published on August 11, 1845
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When a Glasgow lawyer decided to create a newspaper for the booming industrial towns centred around Falkirk, he was able to take advantage of the latest technological advances.

Alexander Hedderwick might not have been based in the district, but he could easily distribute his fledgling title thanks to the new railway linking Glasgow and Edinburgh via Falkirk and Polmont, which had opened three years previously.

The High Street office of The Falkirk Herald decorated to celebrate the coronation of George V in 1911

The High Street office of The Falkirk Herald decorated to celebrate the coronation of George V in 1911

The first edition of The Falkirk Herald went on sale 170 years ago today - and the paper has served the district ever since.

It’s fitting that as the Herald reaches another milestone thanks to its ability to change with the times, the railway that helped its creation is undergoing a major renovation to ensure its long-term future.

The Herald proved a hit with the public at a time when national literacy rates were growing and the demand for reading materials increased.

Less than a year after the first edition went on sale, Hedderwick sold the 
paper to Archibald Johnston, whose grandfather had first established a printing business in 1763.

Although how news is delivered has changed dramatically since 1845, our aim remains the same

Falkirk Herald editor Jill Buchanan

Johnston moved production of the Herald to Falkirk, and the first edition to be printed in the town went on sale on August 13, 1846.

The Herald was the first title purchased by the Johnston family, and its increasing size and influence would play a crucial part in growing the company which would become the present day Johnston Press publishing empire.

The Falkirk Herald switched from monthly to weekly publication in 1851 and its first full-time editor, J. Finlay, was appointed on the recommendation of Alexander Russell, editor of The Scotsman.

The current editor, Jill Buchanan, was appointed in May after previously working as the paper’s chief reporter.

The editorial and office staff of The Falkirk Herald and Linlithgowshire Gazette, circa 1900

The editorial and office staff of The Falkirk Herald and Linlithgowshire Gazette, circa 1900

She said: “For the last 170 years The Falkirk Herald has played an integral role in the community it represents. It has reported on triumphs and disasters that have affected this district, as well as providing a platform for readers to give their views on the important issues of the day.

“Although how news is delivered has changed 
dramatically since 1845, our aim remains the same - to give our readers the most up-to-the-minute information about what is happening in the place where they live.

“We look forward to doing that for many more years to come.”

Over the decades the paper has championed political reform and helped to raise thousands of pounds for good causes.

A fundraising drive for Belgian refugees following the First World War earned a formal thank you from the King of Belgium.

In the aftermath of the Redding pit disaster in 1923, a Herald appeal raised a staggering £63,000 – equivalent to several million pounds today - for victims’ families.

In 1940, Herald readers raised £5000 to buy a Spitfire fighter plane - named The Falkirk Bairn - to help the fight against Hitler’s Germany.

While the newspaper published every Thursday remains the cornerstone of the business, the Herald was quick to embrace the digital age - its first website was established as long ago as 1996 - and maintains a visible presence on social media.

The Herald website publishes breaking news stories and features on a daily basis and is read by Falkirk Bairns around the world.

The title has come a long way from its first edition 170 years ago.

Offices may change but paper remains at the heart of the district

The Falkirk Herald’s editorial and advertising teams are today based across two offices in Falkirk and Grangemouth, the former in Manor Street and the latter at Gateway Business Park in Beancross Road.

Many older readers will recall the Herald’s former office in Falkirk High Street, which closed in 1981.

Following more than two decades in Newmarket Street, staff were based in Camelon until 2010 before a move to Grangemouth.