A newspaper which found itself at the administrative centre of one of Australia’s biggest media empires has become one of the industy’s latest casualties.
Although not one of the oldest, the Hawkesbury Gazette can trace its roots across 180 years.
John Charles Lucas Fitzpatrick started his journalism career as an apprentice on the Windsor Express & Richmond Advertiser in 1843, but when the paper collapsed after only 12 months, he was forced to pursue his career elsewhere.
He returned, however, in 1888 to launch the Windsor & Richmond Gazette – which ceased publication in July – running it as manager and editor from offices in George Street, Windsor and Windsor Street, Richmond, until its sale 11 years later. The Gazette was quickly resold, but held by the family of employee Frank Campbell from 1899 to 1942, when it merged with the Hawkesbury Courier as Hawkesbury Consolidated Press.
By then known as the Hawkesbury Gazette, it ceased publication this year on July 28, editor Matt Lawrence explaining that “as has been the case in many suburban pockets of western Sydney, the traditional newspaper model has become increasingly harder to sustain… over recent years”. Among factors, he cited the rise of online advertising options and dramatic increases in printing costs, plus the turbulence created by the COVID-19 pandemic, “and unfortunately the maths no longer adds up”.
And that’s it for the Australian Community Media masthead which was once at proudly at the centre of the Rural Press empire, prior at least to its “reverse takeover” of Fairfax Media and the sale of that to Nine Entertainment. The Rural Press mastheads were subsequently sold as ACM to Antony Catalano and Thorney Investment’s Alex Waislitz.
Michelle Nichols of the Hawkesbury Family History Group noted Fitzpatrick’s role as one of the founders of the Provincial Press Association.
More recently, North Richmond was to be become both the administrative and production centre for Rural Press, contributing in both respects – notably as a print centre for the Sydney Morning Herald until Nine contracted production out to News Corp Australia in 2018.
Pictured, top: The original Gazette office in George Street, Windsor (State Library of NSW); (below) the North Richmond site is extended to print the Sydney Morning Herald; the right-hand part of the pressline relocated last year to the Advertiser print centre in Adelaide