THE Abergavenny Chronicle was founded in 1871 by Edwin Morgan, an enterprising local businessman.
Morgan had originally attempted to launch a newspaper in the town in 1864 with the ill-fated Abergavenny Gazette, which was printed at premises in Nevill Street. Sadly, this venture collapsed after just a few issues. Morgan however was not a man to give up easily and seven years later the first edition of snappily titled Abergavenny Chronicle and General Record of the Agricultural and Mining Districts appeared on the streets of Abergavenny. The paper cost 1d and its editor was journalist W M J Scanlon.
At this time The Chronicle was based at premises in Frogmore Street, but like most country newspapers was partially printed elsewhere. In the case of The Abergavenny Chronicle this was a at print works in Manchester. Much of the news in the paper at this time was national or international, with only the front and back pages containing local news and advertising. In this way The Chronicle was able to supply local people, many of whom rarely saw a national newspaper, with up to date news and information about issues as wide ranging as fashion and technological innovation.
The paper was originally produced in tabloid form and contained just eight pages. Today, The Chronicle is one of the few local newspapers to maintain its broadsheet style.
Unlike the ill-fated Abergavenny Gazette, The Abergavenny Chronicle was an instant success, with local businesses seeing its potential for advertising their wares and services. Edwin Morgan’s business also went from success to success and he was soon able to move to larger premises in Frogmore Street where The Chronicle was to remain for most of its first 100 years in print.
As the years progressed The Chronicle became a vital part of the community at a time when advances in education were creating a demand for education not only about the locality, but about the world at large.
The turn of the century saw W M J Scanlon and later his successor George Harris - known to readers as Gobannium - begin to modify the editorial content of the paper to meet the changing needs of its readers. Their work established the tradition of providing full, unbiased and reliable local news - a tradition to which The Chronicle still firmly adheres.
While the content of the paper may have changed as subsequent editors sought to keep pace with the changing demands of its readership, the paper’s ownership has remained solid with The Chronicle remaining in Edwin Morgan’s family until the 1960s. Upon his death the management of the paper was taken over by his son-in-law Edgar Straker, who ran it until his death - at his desk - in 1939. At this time his role was taken over by his son, Stanley Morgan Straker, who ran the business with his three sisters, Miss Derrie Straker, Mrs J A Moxley and Mrs J S James as co-directors.
In 1960 Stanley Straker and his son John and their wives took over the running of the paper until its sale in 1965 when it became part of the the Worcester based company Berrows Newspapers Ltd - and moved to new premises in Cross Street.
Becoming part of a larger group of papers was vital to the survival of The Abergavenny Chronicle as since the end of World War II the cost of newspaper production has risen rapidly causing the demise of many local newspapers.
The 1970s saw a time of great change in the newspaper industry, with new print technology bringing advances like the use of colour photographs. As part of the Berrow’s group, The Abergavenny Chronicle was one of the first weekly newspapers to use full colour on its front page, although this was a hugely expensive and as a result, shortlived process, which was only revived in recent years.
In the early 1980s, Berrows itself was taken over by Reed International and The Abergavenny Chronicle was offered for sale. In September 1983 it was bought by Tindle Newspapers Ltd an independent company based in Farnham, Surrey.
Under the ownership of Sir Ray Tindle, the Abergavenny Chronicle has gone from strength to strength and in 1996 celebrated its first 125 years by moving from Cross Street to its present premises in Nevill Street - just doors from the building where Edwin Morgan launched his first newspaper almost 150 years ago.
In 2002 The Abergavenny Chronicle launched its free sister papers The Abergavenny Gazette and Diary and The Crickhowell Gazette and Diary and in 2004 The Valley Voice, a new free paper for the South Wales valleys was launched.
During his long history The Chronicle has prided itself on its solid reporting of the news, but in 2003 found itself making the headlines, when its editor Pat Griffiths scooped a £8.4 million National Lottery jackpot, hitting the headlines all over the world.