Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arthur Morrish - Newspaper man

The rather scholarly and kindly faced man in the photograph (courtesy of descendants of Mr and Mrs Morrish) was one of early 20th century Avondale’s settlers and prominent citizens. Just before World War I, he started something new to the district and even to the rest of West Auckland up to that time: a local newspaper.

Sometime in 1913-14, Arthur John Morrish (1869-1949) printed the first issue of his weekly publication for Avondale, New Lynn, Waikumete, Henderson, and Swanson, called simply The News. Copies of The News are very rare today, and even photocopies of his work are much sought after these days. If you pop into the Avondale Community Library, you’ll see some photocopies of his pioneer newspaper. No one knows exactly when the newspaper ceased publication, but Arthur Morrish died in 1949, aged 80.

Arthur’s parents had married in Tiverton, Devon in 1869, then moved to London where Arthur was born. The family returned to Tiverton, and Arthur’s father Samuel died there. Like his father, Arthur wasn’t robust in health, he was actually described as being delicate, but he possessed a happy disposition. He had been originally apprenticed to the printing trade in England, working at The Gazette in Tiverton. He emigrated from Devon in 1894 when he was 25, married Adelaide Annie Rayner (whom he’d first met in Derby) and settled in Princess Street (Elm St), where he set up his business before shifting first to Great North Road (just down from the 1938 Post Office), and then to Rosebank Road.

His wife Adelaide Annie Morrish (c.1871-1941) ran her own business in Rosebank Road alongside her husband’s printing works. Arthur Morrish was also a member of the Avondale Primary school committee during the 1920s-1930s, and was a spokesman for a local residents’ committee backing the choice of Pollen Island as an airport from 1929-1932 (the Auckland City Council, by late 1932, decided Pollen Island was unsuitable). Some say Arthur Morrish was the one who suggested that Garnet Road in Avondale be renamed Tiverton Road, in honour of his family’s town of origin back in England.

After Arthur Morrish and his News came the Avondale Advance in the late 1940s-1950s, which in turn went into the start of the Western Leader we know today. But both the Western Leader and our own Spider’s Web owe a debt to the vision of a pioneering, and largely forgotten, newspaperman from Tiverton in Devon, from over 90 years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment