This blog post was originally published in 2015 and tells of the development of our Newsletter and of the villagers involved in those early days.
The Walkington village Newsletter is one of the cornerstones of village life. It demonstrates to us all what can be achieved with dedication and enthusiasm, by a small group of volunteers, whose aim it is to deliver a monthly magazine in this digital, information driven world. Like walkington-life, the village blog, the Newsletter has as its central purpose, the aim to inform and enlighten the people of the village, with news and events happening around them and how very successful it has been for the last 55 years.
So how did it all start? In May 1960, the Rector of All Hallows Church, the Reverend Tony Lawrance, left the village and a Churchwarden called Norman Castle realised that there was a lack of information on what was happening at the Church. He had the idea of producing a monthly newsletter that would be delivered, free of charge, to every house in the village. The first issue was a single sheet and 180 copies were produced. The following issue was 260 copies and this reached every house in the parish.
Norman Castle was assisted in his efforts by Joan Gray, a fellow bell-ringer, who was responsible for all the typing for both the draft and stencil copy. Did I mention old technology, well this really was labour intensive, old technology by modern day standards. They used a basic flat bed duplicator whereby the stencil was attached to the duplicator and inked with a hand roller and then the lid lowered and when raised there was the printed sheet. This process had to be repeated for each page. This had to be a labour of love and surely enough Norman and Joan were eventually married in 1972.
The next technological breakthrough occurred when Mr Beth Taylor, the Headmaster at Walkington School, allowed the use of his manual driven rotary Roneo duplicator. This was akin to the invention of the steam engine. It allowed for faster, clearer printing with more pages and so allowing more news coverage. Then in 1962 another breakthrough in the history of the Newsletter – the first use of pictures.
And so it continued for the first twelve years being typed and printed in the Church vestry and establishing the format still with us today – news from village churches, clubs, organisations, Parish Council minutes and articles.
Norman Castle left the village in 1971 and was joined later by has wife Joan. The Newsletter torch was then passed to other capable hands of village volunteers, namely, Joan Herdsman, Doris Teal, Lil Bond and Sylvia Hood who all continued to beaver away in the Church vestry with the typewriter and the printing duplicator. It’s worth mentioning that Ernie Teal says of Joan Herdsman, in his book on Walkington, “we could not have got a more competent and determined person if we had to search the whole of England.”
In 1976 Sheila Young became the editor and continued editing the Newsletter for over 20 years, still typing out each page on a typewriter, having it printed then sent to have it collated and the pages stapled. Then came Marjorie Whitaker a business woman with her own printing company who generously offered to print the Newsletter for free. This offer lasted for five years, but then a small charge had to be made for the printing and means had to be found to fund this cost – so the Newsletter started advertising. It was also during this period that the Sherwood Trust provided Sheila with funds for the purchase on an electric typewriter which made all the typing much quicker and easier.
In 1999 Sally Clayton took over the editorship role followed by a short break, when Tina Johnstone and then Val Smithson took over the job before Sally returned continuing for 10 years. It was during Sally’s tenure that technology really took over and the the Newsletter was produced on a computer. Another milestone was reached in 2000 when the Millennium edition was printed in full colour with the assistance of David Alderson. In more recent times Margaret Berry became the editor before passing on the title to Caroline Coath, the present incumbent.
It is interesting to note that the launch of the Newsletter and its future development coincided with the greatest expansion of house building and population growth that Walkington has ever seen; come rain or shine, the magazine pops through the door every month, delivered usually by unseen hands, who we should all be grateful to. The Newsletter remains a village institution, part of the fabric of the village and a source of the strong community spirit that still lives on in the village.
And so from an initial print run of 180 copies the Newsletter has grown to approximately 1000 copies delivered free of charge to every house in the parish. Thank you Norman and Joan, and the many villagers who have followed in their footsteps, especially to Sheila and Sally, all volunteers, giving up some of their free time for the greater good.
- Information from the 50th Anniversary edition of the Newsletter
- Walkington by Ernie Teal.