JUBILEE OF SOUTH AUS TRALIAN JOURNALISM.
.THE ''REGISTER'S' FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY.
It is a rare thing in the history of journalism for newspaper enter- prise to be contemporaneous with settlement, and even the originality
of the adventurous Englishman has only once gone so far as to con- ceive the idea of starting a news- paper to represent the views and aspira- tions of an unborn community. In the case of Australia the older colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land were years without a news- paper, and even go-ahead Victoria was content to wait for a time before her Press was represented in even so primitive a form as in a manuscript journal. To the promoters of the South Aus- tralian Gazette and Colonial Register, Messrs. Robert Thomas and George Stevenson, is due the credit of furnishing a unique example of pioneer journalism. It is fifty-one years since those gentleman originated the idea of starting the news- paper referred to. The first number, which was printed "for the proprietors by William Clowes & Sons, Duke-street, Stamford-street, Lambeth, London," ap- peared on June 18, 1836, some time before the appointment of the first Governor. The history of the Register is pre- eminently the history of South Aus- tralia, for the newspaper was not only the forerunner of settlement, but it has been associated with all the ups and downs of our colonial history. It has shared in the vicissitudes of the province, participating in its prosperity, and being sympathetically affected by its adversity. It has photographed the varied events of each day as they succeeded one another in un ending rotation ; recorded the hopes and fears, the successes and the failures of its people ; noted alike their rejoicings and their complaints; given utterance to their opinions, and served as the battlefield upon which contests have been fought out which are none the less noteworthy because they have been bloodless, and because the issues involved have had to do not with national existence or national aggrandize- ment, but with the laying on a true and safe basis the foundations of a free and well-ordered State occupied by a con- tented and prosperous people. In the early numbers of the paper old colonists find embalmed the history of occurrences in which they themselves took a pro- minent part, while their descendants can trace there 'the accounts of incidents which took place either before their birth or in their unen- lightened infancy. Step, by step the Register has advanced, growing with the growth of the community. On December 2, 1878, it reached its ten thousandth number, and to-day marks its twelve thousand six hundred and fifty- third issue. It is just fifty years ago to-day since No. 2, Vol. 1., was pub- lished. It was popularly supposed — indeed, the belief is cherished now by many old colonists— that it first saw light under a giant eucalyptus at Glenelg — not the historical 'Temple Bar tree — but as a matter of fact it was printed in a pise building erected upon an acre in Hindley- street— one of the first structures of the kind raised on the site of the future City of Adelaide. This house or hut, as it was colloquially termed, was at the time deemed quite a triumph of architecture as compared with the rude reed huts which the first settlers had to content themselves with. The plant was rather extensive for a com- mencement, consisting as it did of about, half a ton of bourgeois and brevier type, a good fount of small pica for printing official documents, and a quantity of general jobbing type; it comprised also a demy Stanhope press and a wooden press of the most antiquated pattern. The bulk of the type was stowed away in the Africaine for ballast, and the bills of lading pro- bably not having been properly checked a large portion of it was carried on to Hobart Town by the Africaine, whence, in course of time, it was brought back. The print ing presses and a few cases of jobbing type were left behind and landed on the seabeach at Holdfast Bay, and thus a little Government printing which was actually required by the "departments" was executed. In the ordinary course of the original plan No. 2 of the Register should have come close upon the heels of the proclamation of the province, but owing to this contretemps the issue was delayed. Respecting the initial act of official printing, the late Mrs. Robert Thomas — who took so active and useful a part in the journalistic department of the paper that she might well have been classed as one of the firm of Robert Thomas & Co. — says, in her in- valuable manuscript records of pioneer expe- riences now in the possession of her grandson. — 'We built a rush hut a short distance from our tents for the better accommodation of part of our family, but they had not long occupied it before everything was suddenly ordered to be cleared out to make room for the printing press, in order to print the proclamation of the colony, and in this place (about 12 feet square) the first printing in South Australia was produced.' This was on December 20, 1836. On December 30 she adds :— "This day Mr. Thomas received orders to prepare his printing press for the proclamation, which would be required immediately, and in consequence we were obliged to hire a truck to bring up one of the presses and the type, which with some other packages still remained on the beach, where we had intended, they should remain till our final settlement, as we did not expect to commence 'printing until then. 'We remained at Glenelg,' Mrs. Thomas afterwards writes, ''till June 1, 1837, when we removed to a town acre of our own in Adelaide, No. 56, Hindley-street, where Mr. Thomas had previously been making arrangements for a printing establishment.'' With reference to an incident intimately connected with the same circumstances she remarks : — ' The first parcel of letters which left the colony was dispatched from our tent at Glenelg. It having been in- timated that a ship was about to sail for Sydney we were requested to receive the letters of such of the settlers who wished to write to their friends in. England, and accordingly many availed themselves of the opportunity and brought their com munications to us, all of which I enclosed in a brown holland bag, the best I had for the purpose, and being carefully sealed it was sent to Sydney to be thence con- veyed to England. So that a rush hut was the first printing-office, and a canvas tent the first post-office in South Aus- tralia.' And she might have justly added, 'and the pioneer printer's wife wad the pioneer postmistress.' The difficulties that had to be faced in what would appear now to be a simple undertaking, that of producing six pages of single demy, were, under the peculiar circumstances, most formidable, In these days of magnificent mechanical appliances for printing, competent compositors, and skilled reporters it is hard to realize how much anxiety was felt in providing for the successful issue of that pioneer paper, but in addition to the naturally primitive arrangements there were other hard
matters to contend with. One of the printers, a young man named Osborne, was lost in trying to cross Kangaroo Island, and was never seen in life again. It was almost impossible to procure hands at all, and to get experienced men was out of the question. Such a professional as a skllled reporter was then unknown, and Mr. Thomas and his partner had to do the best they could with the limited staff they had, assisted by the lady members of the family. Nevertheless in that inconvenient pise building in Hindley-street, and under circumstances calculated to damp the enthusiasm of any man but a genuine pioneer, the first number of the newspaper and official organ was given to the little world of South Australia, and successfully, as the character of the sample testifies. It was intended, even at first, that the paper should come out weekly, but events were otherwise ordered, and this is the erratic record of its earlier appearances — June 3, July 8, July 29, August 12, September 16, October 4, October 19, and November 11. The reasons for the irregularity are not far to seek, but the Editor was sometimes at his wits' end to pacify irate subscribers. One colonist of the time remarks — 'The Editor thus apologized on November 11, 1837:— -'The late appearance of the Re- gister has been occasioned by the miscon- duct of a journeyman printer, who has thought proper to desert his employment at a moment while engaged in making up or arranging the types for the present number. There are a certain set who have not scorned to tamper in a most scandalous manner with our printer's servant, but if they have succeeded in enticing him away from his duty they will not escape the exposure which awaits them for their pitiful and disgraceful con- duct' ' This indignant protest ends with a pathetic appeal to the public to bear with any future possible irregularities. The Editor's fears were prophetic, for the next number was not issued till January 6, 1838, leaving a good gap from No- vember 11 ; and again an ill-conditioned journeyman is blamed. He seems to have been practically indispensable, for the Editor bewails his loss because he cannot be replaced, and again pours out the vials of his wrath upon those who enticed the man away. The Editor did his best with the aid of the late Mr. William Kyffin Thomas, then a lad of 16, who had had two months' experience in a printing-office in London, and who at this early age began a practical connection with the paper which only ended with his death some forty years later. Fortunately at this juncturo several com- positors arrived from the old country, and regularity of issue was thus ensured. In April, 1840, Messrs. Thomas and Stevenson purchased from Mr. W. C. Cos, the proprietor, the plant and copyright of the Adelaide Chronicle, which thus became incorporated with the Register, its day of publication being Wednesday and that of the Register Saturday. The Chronicle was edited by Mr. J. F. Bennett, whom very old colonists will re member. He was a man of many parts.' On the Chronicle becoming defunct through the depression of the times, Mr. Bennett accepted the position of mate in one of the Adelaide liners — a brig of some 200 tons— and coming again to the colony in the 'good times' engaged in mercantile pursuits for a period, when he again returned to his native country, entered the army, and eventually attained the position of Major. It was not long before the Editor of the Register got into hot water with the Administrator of the Government by reason of the bold and un- compromising fashion in which the paper denounced what were regarded as errors and abuses in the management of affairs, and his partner, Mr. Thomas, was in consequence deposed from his office of Government Printer. Mr. Thomas went to England to make a personal appeal to the Imperial authorities, but returned without having obtained the redress he sought. For a time indeed the prospects of the paper grew blacker and blacker. Seeing that the colony was popularly believed to be 'going to the dogs,' and salaries for the most part; were 'owing,' one can imagine that the Register must have had as hard a struggle with backward sub- scribers as the proverbial backwoods news- paper, where the proprietor had to take out his subscriptions in kind because he could not get it in cash. The first number printed in the colony contained all the official announcements under the heading of the 'S.A. 'Government Gazette,' and the general news under the title of 'The Colonial Register. ' Apart from its his- torical value this number has points of a peculiar interest, inasmuch as it contains lists of the original sales of town acres, with the names of the purchasers, prices paid, &c. In this number we have, under date Glenelg, December 28, 1836, 'His Excellency John Hindmarsh, Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, Cap tain of the Royal Navy, produced in Council this day His Majesty's Order in Council, dated February 23, 1836, erecting South Australia into one pro- vince, and constituting the Council thereof.' Then we find the Orders in Council, and names familiar as household words as those of dead and gone but highly esteemed pioneers. An announcement as to the establishment of the Government exhorts the colonists to 'conduct them- selves on all occasions with order and quietness, duly to respect the Iaws,' &c, and by a course of industry and sobriety, by the practice of sound morality and a strict observance of the ordinances of religion, to prove themselves worthy to be the founders of a great and free colony.' We find also that it was the Governor's firm determination to punish with exemplary severity all acts of violence or injustice practised or attempted against the natives, who were ' to be considered under the safeguard of the law as the colonists themselves, and equally entitled to the privileges of British sub- jects.' Unfortunately the inevitable fate of gradual extinction follows the aboriginal inhabitants. In reference to the natives the paper says :— ' It is a source of much gratification to find that the natives of that part of the province chosen for the first settlement are' far superior to the ordinary race of New Hollanders. Their friendly dispositions, honesty, and in- offensive conduct may fairly set at rest all the fears that might at first have been entertained. It is to be hoped that an attempt to bring them within the pale of civilization judiciously begun and firmly conducted will soon be made.' That the early settlers fully valued the advantages of education is proved by the statement that the 'South Australian School Society is already fully organized and in vigorous prosecution,' and the pioneer Press lends its aid by earnestly advocating the cause thus taken in hand by the Association. In these times of disturbance in the labour market it seems strange to read of the labour ques- tion coming prominently to the front in the newspaper of a colony only a few months old, but in this 'broadsheet,' of June 3, 1837, we read of ' the state of the labouring population,' 'extrava- gantly high wages,' and testimony is borne to the 'generally good and orderly conduct of the working classes.' The first birth recorded in this paper is that of a son to Mrs. Robert Gouger on December 29, 1836, and we have the first sad record of death in that of the wife of the Hon. Robert Gouger at the early age of 32, and a pathetic intimation of the death of the son, Henry Hind- marsh Gouger, aged 11 weeks and 1 day. The session of gaol delivery furnishes some interesting particulars, and the colony is complimented upon a ' Grand and petit Jury,' forming 'an array alike striking whether we regard its re- spectability or its intelligence.' Would not a Jury of the present time stare at being so distinguished in the Press. A
column is given to an eloquent speech by His Honor Judge Jeffcott to the Jury, and we find from it that burglary is not indigenous to the colony, but 'an im portation from Van Diemen's Land,' and two whites have been stealing ' a jacket' and some spears and waddies from the blacks, or 'aboriginal inhabitants,' as they are politely termed ; and this crime was committed 'in a hut which these poor natives had constructed for them selves at the town of Glenelg in imitation of our huts, being the first which had been constructed by them.' It was thus specially hard upon the natives that the earliest attempt at civilization on their part should have called down upon them such a punishment. Breaking into a native's wurly could not, however, have yielded much in the way of plunder. The Colonial Register starts with a modest leader about 'Ourselves,' intro ducing the infant paper on its appearance 'in its own country.' In the first number printed in England the editorial character was merged in that of the compiler and narrator, but here the paper was on the scene of action. The editor professes to know no such distinctions as Whig, Tory, Conservative, or Radical, and says truly that the interests of the colony are those of everybody in it. There is a report of the arrival and installation of the Governor, ending with a wish pro- phetic 'May South Australia flourish.' We are told of the surprise and satis- faction felt at the large sum pro- duced by the sale of town sections, and it is amusing to compare that estimate with the present price of small portions of those very town acres, hearing as we do of £200, £300, and even £500 a foot being refused. A good deal is said about the prosperity and spirited enterprise of the South Australian Company, and there is much jubilation over a 'sawmill of seventy saws,' a flourmill of four pairs of stones, a patent slip for ships of 500 tons, and a steam engine of 20 - horsepower being expected from England. We have an example of how history repeats itself, when we read a fifty-year-old paragraph headed 'Look out for convicts,' and calls to mind the recent anxiety about 'recidi vistes.' In accordance with the arrange- ment with the Government made in London the Register, containing the news, was entirely under independent control, the Government retaining the right to at any time publish a separate Gazette. This provision, chiefly for reasons already given, was put in force on June 15, 1839, but Messrs. Robert Thomas & Co. still undertook the Government printing. The newspaper was henceforth known as the South Australian Register, and through all its vicissitudes and change of proprietary it has retained that title and maintained its position. Its earliest rival was the Southern Australian, but it held its own against that and all subsequent comers. In the beginning of 1840 it was en- larged, and instead of six pages of single demy it appeared as eight pages, and on August 29, 1840, it assumed the more dignified form of a 'broadsheet' A double-demy Columbian press was ex- pressly imported for the purpose of pro ducing it in its enlarged form. The press from which the first number was thrown off is in existence, and still in use in the Jobbing Department of the paper. In August, 1842, there was a change in the proprietary of the Register, the paper and plant being disposed of to Mr. James Allen, who, for a short time, carried on operations in the old establishment on Acre 56 near the west end of Hindley street. By-the-way, a portion of the old printing-office — the composing-room, built of brick, which was added to the original pise structure a year or two afterwards — was standing for many years as a dwelling house, but it yielded to time and the march of improvement some eight or nine years ago. Mr. Allen had not been very long in possession before it become apparent that there must be a change of position, as the infant town was steadily developing, and the stockyards and vacant land in the now busy thoroughfares of Hindley-street and King William-street north were being superseded by the buildings which the energetic settlers were putting up for dwelling or business purposes. It could be seen that the trade of Adelaide was not to be confined to the westward of Morphett-street, but was extending east ward, and even Rundle-street was assert- ing its right to be considered from a business point of view. Mr. Allen bought a vacant block of land at the corner of Rundle and King Wil- liam Streets, and thereon erected a print ing-office. The pressroom, publishing office, and accountants' room occupied ths ground floor, and the upper apartment was used as a caseroom. The block is known to latter-day Adelaideans as the Beehive corner, and the building as it now stands is the same as when Mr. Allen had it, with the excep- tion that shopfronts have been added. It was fortunate that Mr. Allen had per- severance and some business ability, for those qualities were in those days needed to steer a man clear of the depths and shoals of a financial career. The colony had got into a depressed state owing to a variety of causes, and nearly every one was more or less in difficulties. People put their hands in their pocketa to find nothing there, and the Govern- ment were in as bad a plight as those they governed. Civil servants' salaries were pretty much like the midshipman's allowance — a farthing a year paid quar- terly. A revenue would have been a curiosity, and a Bank balance a wonder. It has been said of those troublous days that when the Burra Mine came to the rescue of the province, and enabled
the people to feel their feet again that there was only one merchant who had kept his head above water. It is suggested that he had the advantage of being a canny Scot, and he died a year or two ago, leaving £217,000. Mr. Allen himself was in a chronic state of poverty, and had frequent visits from bailiffs, but in those days he was not singular in that respect. One bailiff was in possession for nearly three months, and might almost have been regarded as a proprietor. He seems by all accounts to have been a rather jovial sort of officer, and being a sailor by calling he was in the habit of enter taining the distrained with nautical yarns. On February, 1843, the Register under went another change, as it came out twice a week. The proprietary was ambitious to still further develop the usefulness of the paper, and at the end of another year sought to bring it out as a daily in the form of a single sheet of demy, but the times were not advanced enough for such a forward step, and the experiment proved a failure. After persevering for a few weeks the proprietor repented of his enter prise, and the paper resumed its original form and issue. During the pro prietorship of Mr. Allen two other newspapers were issued besides the Register, namely, the Southern Cross and the Monthly Times. The former was originated for the sole purpose of writing down Governor Grey and his administra- tion, and the pen of Mr. Allen was more than ordinarily bitter and sarcastic whilst dealing with this subject. The latter paper partook of the character of our present Summaries for Europe, being principally a compilation of the news of the month. In June, 1845, the Register again changed owners, Mr. John Stephens be- coming the proprietor. Some two years previous to his purchase Mr. Stephens, who possessed an English literary reputa- tion, was engaged on the editorial staff of the Register, but he was of too indepen- dent a stamp to suit Mr. Allen, and a separation soon took place. The colony, through the discovery of the Burra Mine, had by this time regained its prosperity, and the ranks of those settlers who had through sheer necessity gone out of town a couple of years before in order to eke out a maintenance from the products of the soil were continually being added to. Wheat was being grown in excess of local requirements, and as the ruling price was exceedingly low farmers were looking about for foreign markets. Under these circumstances Mr. Stephens deemed that a weekly paper, devoted to the in- terests of the farmers, was a desideratum. He therefore engaged the late Mr. John Dickins, who canvassed, on foot, the coun- try districts with such success that the contemplated journal was issued on July 1, 1843, under the title of the Adelaide Observer. As Mr. Stephens had no plant of his own the printing of the Observer was entrusted to the late Mr. George Dehane, whose office then was situated in Morphett - street. By reason of the addition of the Observer to the Register the building at the Beehive Corner was found to be not sufficiently commodious, and more extensive pre- mises were taken in Hindley-street, on the site of what is now Beach's Res- taurant and the two adjoining shops. In March, 1848, Mr. Anthony Forster became connected with the editorial department of the Register under Mr. Stephens, but relinquished the posi- tion after occupying it for some months in order to embark in pastoral occupations. It now appeared to be pretty plain sailing, as the Register was in a fair way to become a paying con- cern and the colony was recovering, but troubles again thickened around it owing principally to the plain speaking which characterized the policy of the new proprie- tor. Mr. Stephens wielded a trenchant pen, and as the result of his belli- gerent disposition enemies rose up around him, who in many instances sought redress for their imagined wrongs at the hands of the law. The late Sir R. D. Hanson, who arrived about this time from New Zealand, had a standing re- tainer to defend the actions ; but his talents were often insufficient to enable his client to come out successfully. Mr. Hanson also assisted editorially, many of the leading artices in the Register being the product of his pen. Mr. Stephens was in the habit of making it his boast that there never should be a maiden session if he thought there was a wrong to redress, and which would probably involve him in a libel action. At the time of his death his name occurred nine times in the cause list of the Supreme Court as defen- dant in libel actions. These entanglements in the law and the expenses consequent thereupon kept Mr. Stephens very low financially. On one occasion it seemed as if the concern would have to sink under its difficulties, but it had a deal of vitality. Mr. Stephens was unable to meet a rather heavy bill which had become due, and the Sheriff's officer with his myrmidons made a descent upon the establishment, and removed all the printer's plant to Neales's Auction Mart over the way in preparation for sale. Here was a substantial difficulty enough to discourage any man but a newspaper proprietor, and there seemed very little prospect of the subscribers obtaining their Register as usual. ' The execution of the writ was, however, intercepted so far as to give permission for the plant to be used for the purpose of getting out the paper, and the novel sight of an auction mart turned for the nonce into a printing office was presented with the compositors
working hard and probably incited to extra effort by the somewhat humorous side of the situation. In the evening, however, a cruel order came prohibiting work, as the indulgence had been withdrawn in consequence of Mr. Stephens refusing to sign a bond drawn up by his creditor. This was piling on the agony with a vengeance, but Mr. G. Dehane cour- teously came to the rescue with an offer of his office to Mr. Stephens, and the Register came out of its troubles triumphant, although slightly altered in appearance. As matters could not be immediately ar- ranged between Mr. Stephens and his creditor, and the room occupied by the printing materials in a comparatively small auction mart was inconvenient to the auctioneer, they were again removed, and this time taken to a large room in Blyth-street. Another dilemma, how ever, faced the proprietor, for the Government Gazette had to be issued on the Thursday, and he did not possess the means to fulfil his engagements. Mr. W. C. Cox, the late Government Printer, who was then the Mechanical Manager of the Register, being on intimate terms with the issuer of the writ, obtained permission from him to use the printing materials, and thus the Government Gazette appeared as usual. In the course of a few days matters were finally ar- ranged, and the types and presses were restored to their owner. Mr. Stephens had assumed a responsi- bility which required decision of character, indomitable pluck, and untiring energy, and these qualities he possessed in an eminent degree. He had the fullest confidence in the capabilities of South Australia, and looked for- ward to a fine future for the land in which he had cast his lot. It was no small matter for a man in those days of limited population and scanty facilities for properly circulating a paper to undertake the task he assumed, and after fearlessly fighting his business and journalistic way against great odds in the shape of the bitter disappointments and continual worry we have spoken of, he died in November, 1850, the 'victim of the severity of his own discipline and labour, but not until he had established on a permanent basis the reputation and success of the Register.' So says one who knew him well and who has paid this tribute to his worth: — 'He was the unflinch ing and unvarying advocate of civil and religious liberty, the truthful and uncompromising exposer of every proved corruption and abuse.' Mr. Stephens left a widow and family, and in their interests the late Mr. John Taylor in a generous and manly spirit, and at great personal sacrifice, undertook the manage ment of the paper — which in 1850 had become a daily issue. The circumstances under which he embarked upon his self- imposed task in the interests of friendship were most disheartening, and had he not possessed great kindness of heart, a resolute will, and high intelligence, besides being a skilled business man, he would not so speedily have overcome the obstacles in his path. The numerous departures to the gold discoveries in Vic toria at this period for a time again checked the colony's progress, and also rendered it somewhat difficult to bring out the Register, nearly all the staff having caught 'the gold fever. Fortunately this state of things did not last long, as the return of many successful diggers speedily restored confidence, and Mr. Taylor had the satisfaction in little more than two years from Mr. Stephen's death of raising the financial fortune of his widow and family and making them comparatively independent The Register underwent another change of ownership on May 24, 1853 when it passed into the hands of a number of gentlemen. It was not long before some of these disposed of their interest, and the property became vested in Messrs. A. Forster, E. W. Andrews, W. K. Thomas, and Joseph Fisher. The editorial manage ment devolved upon Mr. Forster, who had as his coadjutors Dr. Andrew Garran, who has recently retired from the editorial charge of the Sydney Morning Herald, the late Mr. J. H. Barrow, who subsequently left the Register to conduct the South Australian Advertiser, and later, Mr. W. R. Whitridge, who died while in the ser vice of the paper. Mr. Forster rendered important aid both in this journal and in the Legislative Council in securing the passing of the Real Property Act and in main- taining the principle of a complete severance between Church and State. He retired from the proprietorship of the Register in 1864, and the first use he made of his leisure was to publish a compre- hensive and carefully complied "History of South Australia." He is now residing in England, his age being "as a lusty winter, frosty, but kindly." In 1865 Mr. J. Fisher, who still resides among us, sold his interest to Mr. John Howard Clark, and the firm thereupon became known as Andrews, Thomas, and Clark. In 1868 the issue of the Evening Journal was commenced, and the paper speedily acquired an important position as regards circulation. Two years later the broad sheet form of the Register, which had been continued for sixteen years, gave place to eight pages of smaller size, the price being still kept at 3d. It may be here mentioned that the first price of the Register was 6d. ; that between 1839 and 1843 1s. a number was charged; that subsequently the sixpenny rate was revived, which in course of time was changed to 4d.; that in May, 1864, the price was lowered to 3d., and on January 1, 1882, to 2d. The ownership of the Register, Observer, and Evening Journal remained unchanged until the begin- ning of 1877, when, on the death of Mr. Andrews, Messrs. Charles Day, J. H. Finlayson, and R. K. Thomas, who had for many years filled responsible positions in the office, were taken into partnership. In May, 1877, another gap in the proprietary took place, Mr. John Howard Clark having succumbed to a pulmonary complaint. During the greater portion of the time of his connection with the Begister he filled the editorial chair, and was a copious contributor to the leading and literary columns of the paper. As a writer he possessed abilities of the highest order, and the versatility of his talents found full play in the humorous column, "Echoes from the Bush," edited by him under the title of Geoffrey Crabthorne. On July 4, 1878, Mr. W. K. Thomas, the oldest remaining proprietor, died at his residence, Glenelg. He was the son of Mr. Robert Thomas, the pioneer pressman of South Australia, whose death had oc- curred in July, 1860, at the ripe age of 78, and had shared with his father the trials and difficulties of the early history of the paper. The death of Messrs. Thomas and Clark resulted in the business being left in the hands of the younger partners, by whom it is still being conducted under the title of W. K Thomas & Co. In 1853 the premises in Hindley-street not being sufficiently capacious for the growing requirements of the Register and Observer, the block of land in which the present premises stand was purchased, and the buildings upon it at the time, which had previously been occupied by Messrs. Amsberg, Brunskill, and others, were adapted by excavation and otherwise for the reception of the printing plant and appliances. Two or three years afterwards an additional story fronting Grenfell-street was erected, and sub sequently the extensive premises at the rear, which are now occupied by the publishing, jobbing, news, and other de- partments were built. In November, 1854, the circulation of the paper having in creased so largely that the hand machines were found unequal to the task imposed upon them, steam was introduced - and printing machines of the newest pattern in order to keep abreast of the demand. These have from time to time been succeeded by still more powerful
and rapid presses. The proprietors having had a narrow escape from a serious fire by the bursting of a. camphine lamp in the composing room decided upon the manufacture of gas — an industry then untried in the city. They erected two gas- ometers, made their own gas, and in 1860 the various departments were illuminated by it. The plant erected served the purpose exceedingly well until the Gas Company introduced their city service. In 1870 the Begister was made an eight-page paper, and subsequently at various times it has been lengthened and broadened, until in March, 1884, it assumed its present shape of an eight page paper, each page containing eight columns. We have thus brought down the history of the Register and its associated news- papers from the infancy of South Aus- tralia to the present time. In the vary- ing fortunes of South Australia from first to last the Register has been a partici- pator. It has, as we have before said, had its periods of adversity as well as of prosperity, but through all it has been able to maintain its position as an independent organ of public opinion. It has good reason to be satisfied with the support given to it, and it has en- deavoured to deserve the success that it has met with. Its anxiety has been to promote the interests of the paople, to secure for them the blessing of free and liberal institutions ; to guard against all attempts of Church or class to encroach upon their liberties and rights ; to give the fullest publicity to all shades of opinion. As a purveyor of news it has endeavoured to keep pace with the requirements of the community, and it has had the satisfaction of knowing that its efforts have been appreciated. It has had a constant stimulus to enterprise in the fact that enterprise has almost in- variably met its full reward, and thus a good understanding — a genuine sym- pathy — has been maintained between it and the public of South Australia.
THE LATE MR. ROBERT THOMAS.'
THE LATE MR. ROBERT THOMAS.'