Barham Pratt Boorman,
great-grandfather of the present chairman, was the youngest member
of a family who ran a general store in Tenterden. He was interested
in newspapers and in 1884 had launched the Kent Examiner and
By then the Maidstone
Telegraph had become the Kent Messenger and Maidstone Telegraph and
had editions in Dartford and Sevenoaks as well as Maidstone. The
papers were printed on a steam driven press in Station Road,
But in 1890 the owners
were flung into jail after a series of costly libel actions. They
appealed to Mr Boorman for help. He raised funds to get them out of
jail and then bought the Kent Messenger from the cash-strapped
Over the next 40 years,
"BP" spearheaded radical technological change and company
expansion. Linotype machines were installed and revolutionised
compositing by automatically setting type that had been done by
hand. New editions were published and offices opened.
Mr Boorman died in 1928
after 40 years at the helm. His son Henry Roy Pratt Boorman,
grandfather of the present chairman, took over.
Roy Boorman, universally
known as the Guvnor, established the Kent Messenger as the
pre-eminent newspaper in the county.
He took over several
titles including the Maidstone Gazette and Journal (1936), the
Chatham Observer (1937), the Tonbridge Free Press (1958) and the
Edenbridge Chronicle (1968).
steadily, thanks in part to Mr Boorman's view that, at a time when
few people owned television sets, pictures sold newspapers.
He was a good publicist
for the KM, driving all over the county looking for suitable sites
for advertising hoardings. One slogan read: "Kent Messenger for
Maids and Mistresses" - a risqué slogan for its time!
In the 1930s, the KM
published a magazine called "Kent Tells The World", featuring
county industry and organisations. Mr Boorman sent it to British
embassies all over the world.
The KM operated from
premises in Week Street, Maidstone, where the company flourished
for more than half a century. The building, which incorporated oast
houses, was later demolished after a serious fire. The site is now
called Brenchley House.
Roy's son Edwin joined
his father in the business in 1959.
He was about to emigrate
to Canada to set up his own printing business when the KM Group was
caught up in a national printing dispute. As a strike loomed, Edwin
offered his help to continue publication during the crisis, which
his father accepted.
After that Edwin stayed
with the family business and steered the company through decades of
growth as Managing Director and, subsequently, Chairman.
He also served as
President of the Newspaper Society between 2001 and
Edwin was awarded an OBE in 2002
for his services to the Royal British Legion in Kent and retired in
January 2006, becoming company President.
Edwin passed away after a
short illness, aged 76, on March 14, 2012.
daughter of Edwin Boorman, worked for some of the UK's major
regional newspaper groups before joining the KM Group in 1993 as
Development Manager and became Chairman following her father's
retirement in 2006.
"I would hope that if my
great-grandfather could look at everything the company has achieved
since his sudden death in 1928 he would congratulate his son and
grandson for leading the company through thick and thin and into a
future he could not have dreamed of."
She is currently serving as President of the Newspaper
In February 2006, Libby
(Geraldine's cousin) became a Non-Executive Director. Libby had
previously worked in the Commercial Team for over 10 years and now
runs her own business in Bilsington near Ashford.