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Kentish Gazette celebrates three centuries in print

By KentOnline reporter

Since 1717 the Kentish Gazette has stood side by side with the people, to become one of the country's oldest surviving publications.

As the newspaper celebrates its 300th anniversary, we look back at its story.

Since the Middle Ages a succession of royal visitors have made their pilgrimage to Canterbury.

The Black Prince, Henry V and Edward IV all came to give thanks for victory over enemies at home or abroad.

George, Prince of Wales, who became Prince Regent, visited Canterbury in October 1798, a time when the country was celebrating Nelson’s victory in the Battle of the Nile.

The Gazette reported how he admired "the lightness and elegance" of the cathedral, also commented unfavourably on the damaged state of some of the monuments.

He attended a banquet at which turtle soup, much venison and game and pines and melons were served.

He also gave a bounty of 50 guineas to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

How the newspaper used to be printed
How the newspaper used to be printed

Twelve days later, the Prince and his brother Prince William Frederick were present at a review of local regiments including the Canterbury Volunteers on Barham Down.

The climax of all these popular rejoicings took place at Delmar’s rooms on October 15 when the two princes were present at a ball in aid of a fund for widows and children of those who had fallen at the Battle of the Nile.

The Kentish Gazette reported the next day that 350 persons were present, 80 of whom adjourned at 1am to the Fountain Tavern for supper.

Bob Bounds, present day editor of the Kentish Gazette

Anyone joining the Gazette is fully aware of its illustrious history.

There is a sense of responsibility working on a paper with such an amazing heritage behind it.

We’re immensely proud to be part of the second oldest local paper in the country and everyone is excited about reaching this particular landmark.

Bob Bounds, editor of the Kentish Gazette
Bob Bounds, editor of the Kentish Gazette

The Gazette has played an important role in the life of Canterbury and the surrounding villages over that period and is woven into the fabric of the city’s story as well as telling it.

In the beginning most of its space was given over to national and even international events and for many it was the only source of news.

Since then, we’ve covered countless historic events like a papal visit, archbishops’ enthronements and many royal visits. We’ve reported on the happy and the sad and tried to reflect local life with objectivity, balance and passion.

Through all the triumphs and tragedies, we hope to have provided a sense of proportion as well clarity to enable people to be better informed about what happens in the area.

You can have your entire life from cradle to grave recorded in the pages of the Gazette, your educational and sporting achievements and your opinions through our letters page.

Most of all, we love to tell the stories of ordinary people who make our communities tick.

Today the Gazette is unrecognisable from its forerunner, the Kentish Post, that first came off its primitive printing presses on October 16. Those pioneering publishers will have understood the importance of what they were doing but probably didn’t imagine that 300 years later the paper would still be rolling off the presses.

They certainly would not have imagined what the media landscape would look like and what kind of environment the Gazette of 2017 would be operating in.

After all, the Gazette is 15 times older than Google and 287 years older than Facebook.

It’s never been more important to uphold those founding principles of trusted journalism that have stood the test of three centuries and will continue to be the bedrock of all we do so that many more anniversaries will be celebrated for generations to come.

Geraldine Allinson, chairman of KM Group

All of us at KM Media Group are delighted that the Kentish Gazette is celebrating its tercentenary this October.

From its origins as the Kentish Post and Canterbury Newsletter to the present day, it has had a long and distinguished history serving the people of Canterbury and surrounding areas.

KM Group chairman Geraldine Allinson
KM Group chairman Geraldine Allinson

It is an honour and a privilege to be associated with such a long-standing newspaper of record which has reported and campaigned on the highs, lows, difficulties and successes of the people and organisations in the Canterbury area.

I honestly believe it would take over a lifetime to read all the words the Gazette has ever published and to understand the impact that the Kentish Gazette has had on the area it serves, progressing through history side by side with the people of Canterbury.

Thousands of people have worked on the paper over the years in all sorts of roles, dedicating their time and skills and with your support hopefully many more will follow in their path.

For more on the anniversary, see the supplement in this week's Kentish Gazette.

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