Charles Dickens published A Tale of Two
Cities. Queen Victoria had been on the throne for 22 years. And the
Maidstone Telegraph, forerunner of the Kent Messenger, was
It was 1859. A loaf of bread was 10 pence
(4p). A bottle of gin was 3 shillings (15p). And Maidstone's new
paper cost one penny.
The launch of the paper signified the
beginning of the Kent Messenger Group, the county's premier media
group. Today, over 150 years later, the company continues to
publish weekly newspapers, supplements and magazines but also runs
websites, radio stations and other media-related businesses.
In fact, because the KM became so deeply
rooted in Kent, parts of the county were dubbed "KM Country" - most
appropriate for a county that in 1421 was the birthplace of William
Caxton, the father of printing!
One of the Group's titles can trace it's
history back well beyond Queen Victoria - almost 300 years to 1717.
That was when the Kentish Post, which became the Kentish Gazette,
first rolled off the press in Canterbury.
The Gazette series of newspapers was taken
over by the KM in 1980, one of numerous mergers and acquisitions
which date back to 1890. But throughout the years of expansion,
huge competition and massive technological change the KM has
remained in the ownership of one family.
In the 1970s, Messenger House, now the group's
headquarters at Larkfield, was built on the site of a wartime
The Kentish Express, founded in 1855 and based
in Ashford, was bought by KM Group in 1971. In 1980, KM Group
bought Kent County Newspapers, bringing the Herne Bay Gazette, the
East Kent Mercury and the long-established Kentish Gazette into the
KM family. The Kentish Gazette was first published as the Kentish
Post, the county's first newspaper.
The titles merged in 1768. In 1987, the
Sheerness Times Guardian, Faversham News and Sittingbourne News
(now the Sittingbourne Extra) were added to the group.
The Group owned a few free newspapers from
1970, but throughout the 1980s, the Extra series, which it started
in Thanet, expanded to cover the whole county. Dartford
Informer & Maidstone Star also joined the stable of free
papers. There are now 7 free newspapers in the
Committed to the future of local newspapers, the
company has launched 2 exclusively paid-for titles since 2010.
Sittingbourne News Extra and Folkestone & Hythe Express.
KM Group also publishes specialist
publications such as Kent Business and What's On, a popular weekly
guide to events.
Online and Radio
KM Group has always been about information.
Nowadays, that does not just mean newspapers. It also includes the
Internet, radio and other media.
The countywide website Kent Online was
launched in 1999 signaling a new era for the company. KM Group has
evolved by supporting and developing new media. Since 2007 KM
Digital have sold newspapers online and in 2008 nine local web
sites launched as online partners to the group’s newspapers.
The company started to invest in radio in 1999
and in 2001 KM Radio was established. There are now seven
commercial local stations across Kent as well as a DAB digital
With its integrated multimedia portfolio, the
KM Group has shown itself to be the premier media group in Kent and
Medway. But never forgets its roots.
KM Group remains committed to serving the
county, its people and supporting their communities. Through a
network of local offices, the company aims to bring a top quality
and comprehensive service to both the people and businesses of the
county. Just as it has for over 150 years.