Scottie Press: A Liverpool Institution

Celebrating 47 years and counting of independent local news and opinions

Yesterday morning I spent  a couple of hugely enjoyable hours in the office of, arguably, Liverpool’s most opinionated newspaper, talking about?

‘The power of local news in communities and the role Scottie Press has in the regeneration of north Liverpool’

Well so the paper’s newish editor later summed up our rambling conversation, which roamed all over the place, from my own time of first working in the area during the paper’s early days, to his own ideas about north Liverpool’s future and the potential importance of Scottie Press in helping to create it.

We had a great time and I came away with a role for me in the paper’s future, which I’ll tell you about in a bit.

But first back to the start of it all in 1971.

That’s the front page of the first edition shown above. The shops, then as indeed more recently along Great Homer Street, are being demolished to make way for the new district centre. Local people are worried about the changes, while most shopkeepers are sceptical about the high rents coming in for their new premises. Inside there’s news and complaints about the new tunnel, the planned closure of the Burroughs Gardens wash house and this strongly worded statement of intent about the new paper:

‘Let us band together and go forward as one, that we may all achieve our aim: A cleaner, healthier, happier Vauxhall district.
This is what we want.
This is what we are entitled to.
This is what we intend to have.”

There have now been 439 editions of Scottie Press pursuing exactly that aim.

For a good many of the 47 years since 1971 the paper was pulled together and enthusiastically promoted by Ron Formby, who has now retired and been succeeded by Joel Hanson, appointed last year and the editor I came in to meet yesterday morning.

When I too was young and arrived around Scotland Road for my first housing job a year after the paper got going, a frequently heard conclusion to any unsatisfactory discussions with local tenants in the office where I worked was ‘I’m going to Scottie Press about this!’ Already by then a source of opinions and information that was deeply valued by the people of the neighbourhood.

Though a letter in this first edition hadn’t reckoned the men of the neighbourhood were doing their bit to sort things out:

‘We have various organisations for improving the area, the attendance at which is made up mainly of women. If only men would give your help and support the organisations we would be stronger and more representative.

Come on men, show some interest in your future and the future of your children.’
A hopeful resident

So, valuable and useful from the start. And I don’t want to say too much more as, after a bit of a hiatus when Ron Formby retired, the paper is now publishing again regularly and has its own stories to tell about its past, as well as its thoughts on the future.

It’s covering local issues and ideas, as well as city-wide issues that affect North Liverpool, featuring items from its own archives as well as features on what the young people who are our future think about Liverpool and building their lives here.

And of course it features local news and sports, always a staple of Scottie Press since its early days.

While we talked Joel told me how the paper continues to be read by locals who’ve long moved to places all over the world.

‘So many people come from round here and still want to keep in touch with what’s going on that we regularly hear from Canada, Australia and loads of other places round the world. Making us feel like a very international local paper some days.’

One of this year’s editions, it’s coming out bi-monthly now, even featured a love of my own, often talked about on this blog:

So I think it’s great.

‘The Voice of Vauxhall – Britain’s Longest Running and Award Winning Community Newspaper’

And from next month, this is the news I said I’d tell you about earlier, Scottie Press will contain a regular column by me. I’m really honoured, dead pleased and I can’t wait. I’ll be writing about, things I think, stuff I remember and good ideas about now and the future for North Liverpool. Hugely proud to be doing so and joining in with what Scottie Press has always been about. Starting in July.

Thousands of stories waiting to be told.

Scottie Press costs 50p these days, more than the 6 old pence of that first edition, but still good value, and it’s online here.

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