Wargrave Local History Society

Latest News - June 2008

The Wargrave News

The Wargrave News celebrates its 30th birthday this year, and to mark that milestone, Tony Barker, who was been an editor of the Wargrave News for 14 years, and is now on the management committee, gave a well-informed talk about the history and production of our 'village newspaper'. He had brought with him a number of "significant" back numbers to illustrate his talk, and some of these are reproduced below. Click on each image to view the page full size.


Number 1
Tony began by noting that there had been three newsletters pre-dating the Wargrave News distributed to houses in the village - the Parish Council newsletters of March 1973, Autumn 1974 and May 1978. The purpose of the Wargrave News, Tony told us, was to "provide news and inform about the parish, events taking place, and to be a forum for issues affecting the community". It had been started by John Weatherlake, who then owned and ran the High Street Stores, and issue number 1, priced 5p, came out in October 1978. It had coverage of many village activities - the Wargrave Theatre Workshop, the Youth Club, the Wargrave Residents' Association, 'bollards' in Ferry Lane and the Wargrave Wine Circle - as well as advertising (not surprisingly, several for High Street Stores!). John tried to distribute it to the whole village, although this was difficult, as he had little help in producing or distributing the paper (or collecting the '5p's).

In issue 29, February 1981, the paper announced 'Wargrave News, the village takes over', the Henley Standard reporting that the Wargrave News would merge with the Parish news - although that did not in the event take place. John wrote the front page of issue 30 that the following issue would be edited by the 'Wargrave News Committee, which happened from issue 31, with Douglas Goddard writing an introductory article. From that early stage, several 'regular columns' started to appear - Douglas's (district) 'Councillor's Column', 'Riverbank Musings', and 'Garden Hints (at that stage written by Yvonne Free).
Tony then explained the way the paper is managed and produced. The management committee of a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer, together with the editors, advertising and distribution managers and others (including a representative of the parish council) supervise the finances and set the general policy. The revenue comes from advertising, be it the classifieds, the inserted 'flyers', or the 'set' advertising (which is pre-printed for a whole year). For many years, the parish council contributed to the Wargrave News's expenses, but the paper is now self-sufficient, with an annual budget of about 14000 - which pays not only for the printing, but also to the young people who distribute it. The paper is of course now-a-days distributed totally free to all houses in the parish of Wargrave.

Number 100
There are about 5 editors - currently all ladies. The policy is to not include 'party politics', but to present a balanced view of any non-party issues affecting the village. The first editorial meeting each month considers all the submitted articles, and decides, for example, what should be on the front page, so that the artist (currently Jim Waldron) can draw the illustrations. The following week, with the advertising managers, the pages are pasted up ready for the printers. Normally, the editorial team do not themselves create any 'copy' - the content is generated by people, events or organisations in the village. The printers have been - from issue 1 - Vallis Press in Henley. The 1900 copies per issue are 'pre-counted' at the printers ready for distribution to the team of 55 delivery-people, so that every house, flat or shop in the parish receives a copy, with further copies in the library, post office and Sheeplands Farm shop.
Number 200
There have been a number of 'special editions' - to mark the 100th, 200th and 300th issues, or when Sue Griffiths and Rosemary Gray retired from long periods as editor. There have been controversial issues - such as the Millennium Bridge - or even (on April 1st 1998!) a Millennium Tunnel, and a special full colour front cover 6 years ago to show the artwork designed by Crazies Hill school pupils for a stained glass window. The Wargrave News also looks after the Wargrave Information Directory, (virtually paid for by the advertising it contains) compiled every 4 years, and distributed free with the Wargrave News. Looking forwards, the trend is for articles to be submitted electronically, and so it is hoped to compile the entire paper in that format for the printers.

Number 262

Number 300
As Tony concluded, the Wargrave News continues to thrive and is a valuable community asset. There are many who the village should thank who are, or have been, involved in its production and distribution over the last 30 years - far too many to name individually!