COLUMN 

Sir Ray Tindle

The founder of Tindle Newspapers died last week, aged 95. His watchword was ‘local’.

By James Evelegh

Sir Ray Tindle

On 16 April, Sir Ray Tindle, founder of Tindle Newspapers and one of the big players in newspaper publishing over the past 50 years, passed away, aged 95.

The Times ran an excellent (paywalled) obituary and there is a lengthy tribute on the Tindle Newspapers website.

Famously, he built his newspaper empire debt-free. He didn’t borrow and insisted that his titles lived within their means. Costs and overheads were kept to a minimum and he didn’t blindly chase the latest publishing fads.

He believed ‘local’ was the foundation stone of the regional press. His first published newspaper was a 120 copy print-run paper put together on a WW2 troop ship sailing to the Far East. “You couldn’t get more local than that. It was great fun,” he later recalled.

Soon after the war, he used his £300 demob payout to acquire his first title, the Tooting & Balham Gazette. At its peak, the Tindle Group owned more than 220 publications.

He never lost his focus on ‘local’. The Times recounts how when he acquired the Tenby Observer in 1978, saving it from closure, he eschewed one of the suggested rescue plans (that of renaming the title, the West Wales Observer), instead instructing the staff to double down on Tenby: “Throw out anything that isn’t Tenby. We’re not interested in Carmarthen and Haverfordwest.”

Sir Ray was an optimist, a glass half full kind of person who never lost his faith in the value of news.

In 2017, he said, “I see a greater need for our local press now than I have ever seen in my 80 or so years connected with this business. Yes, local papers will survive. Local news in depth is what people need. Names, faces and places.”

In the mid-1990s, he was diagnosed with throat cancer which left him without a voicebox.

“I wasn’t given long to live,” he said 20 years ago. “I asked the surgeon who cut it out what my chances were and he said, ‘well I don’t recommend that you start watching television serials’.”

If it was a strain, as it surely must have been, he never showed it in public, says the Times obituary writer.

Sir Ray comes across as having been a man of great character, optimism and resilience.


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