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Publisher & Journalist

Eddie Shah, newspaper publisher of "Today"

Eddie Shah
sprang into public consciousness in 1983 as a result of an industrial
dispute at his Messenger Newspapers group plant at Warrington.
Shah intended to launch a brand new concept in newspapers –
“Today” , the first ever national daily newspaper to be printed
in colour. Hitherto, Shah had been an obscure publisher based
in Manchester.
This new concept required a revolutionary approach, which the
print industry, hidebound with old traditions, was loathe to
accommodate. Shah decided to print without the unions and employed
“unqualified” printers, prompting violent “strike busting” protests
and street fighting. His own house was fire-bombed on several
The new national tabloid newspaper was to use computer-driven
technology instead of hot metal type, which had been used since
the time of Gutenberg in the 15th century. Computerised reporting
meant that later deadlines were possible and as a result news
could be “fresher” and more up-to-date. Further, the new technology
meant there would be no need for antiquated, labour-intensive
machinery or many of the very costly staffing levels which had
been kept in place by Fleet Street’s powerful print unions and
many of their outdated practices. Shah’s innovation was revolutionary
and world breaking news.
The design of the newspaper was overtly based on USA Today ,
an American colour broadsheet newspaper which had been launched
a few years earlier. Computerised typesetting, or “desk top
publishing” as it came to be known, meant that the idea of producing
a newspaper from scratch without any of the traditional methods
was practical and simple, though it took some getting used to
by older more traditional journalists. Many failed to make the
change and were sacked. Few had sat in front of a computer screen
before and there were many teething troubles.
The first much-heralded edition failed to materialise on time,
printing machines were new and unknown and their operators were
Early editions were often badly printed or poorly registered
and became known in the trade as “Shah-Vision”. In time however,
the technology was mastered, though advertisers failed to bring
in much needed revenues. It has been said that Shah failed to
read the market well enough to ascertain whether it was capable
of supporting yet another daily newspaper. In the event the
business failed, was taken over in 1987 News International,
and, later absorbed by Rupert Murdoch’s News International empire
within two years.
“Today” ceased publication in 1995, though its legacy
lives on to this day, as we take for granted that our newspapers
will be produced on computer screens and that they will be printed
in colour. Shah also went on to publish another newspaper,
“The Post” , which also failed.


Cotton Manufacturer

Samuel Oldknow of Mellor, Cotton Manufacturer


Samuel Oldknow was born in Nottingham in 1756. He served an
apprenticeship in his uncle’s draper’s shop before moving to
live and work in Manchester where he became a cotton manufacturer.

In 1779 he purchased several of Samuel
spinning mules, and was to specialise in the
weaving of fine muslin, and by the turn of the century probably
the country’s, if not the world’s, largest manufacturer of muslin.
These sold well in locally and in London so that in 1785 he
was encouraged to open business premises employing over 300
weavers in Stockport.
By 1790 he had built a new mill in the town which was driven
by a Boulton & Watt steam engine. In 1793 he opened another
mill in Marple on the outskirts of Stockport.
Oldknow went on to operate his mills in the area for a further
40 years. Some time around 1798 and he formed a partnership
with Richard Arkwright, after which Oldknow concentrated on
running the mill at Marple.
His works were to change the face of Marple beyond all recognition
and it was he who was largely responsible for the industrialisation
of the area. Apart from the mill, he built roads, bridges, coal
mines and housing for his workers.
He was also instrumental in the construction of the Peak
Forest Canal
, and as a mark of respect for his good local
works, a monument was erected to him in the local church which
he had built. In 1784, with a loan from Arkwright of �3,000
he purchased a house, warehouse and land on Upper Hillgate in
Stockport. The house, built around 1740, still stands as offices
In 1824 Samuel Oldknow was appointed High Sheriff of Derbyshire.
On his death in 1828, at the age of 72, he was considerably
in debt to the Arkwright family and his estates became their
property in settlement. He died, revered and much loved – over
3,000 people attended his funeral.


Manchester Banker


Samuel Brooks made his name and fortune as an important Manchester
banker. By 1846, he already owned more than 600 acres of land
in Sale, almost a third of the town’s area. An astute businessman,
he ploughed a great deal of money into the purchase of land
for suburban residential development which he sold on at considerable
profit to emerging Manchester industrialists, of whom there
were many in mid-nineteenth century Manchester.
In 1859 he agreed a deal with the Manchester South Junction
& Altrincham Railway Company for land to build a new railway
station to serve the wealthy residential area of Brooklands
Road. Brooks’s name still survives as the name on the station,
which today is the Brooklands Metrolink Station on Marsland

& Edward Holt

Manchester Brewers

Sir Edward Holt - Brewer, Lord mayor of Manchester
Edward Holt

Joseph Holt
was a weaver’s son born in 1849 in Unsworth (a district in Bury
Metropolitan Borough). Unsworth was one of the many small textile
towns and villages that surrounded 19th century Manchester and
were an integral part of its cotton industry.
As a young man Holt was carter at Harrison’s Strangeways Brewery.
He went on in 1849 to marry Catherine Parry, a schoolteacher
from Wales. It was her astute business sense that persuaded
Holt to mortgage his property in order to set up a small brewery
in central Manchester. In 1855 the brewery was moved to the
Ducie Bridge Brewery, by which time Holt was wealthy enough
to be able to make loans at beneficial interest rates to help
local publicans to set up in business in return for exclusive
rights for the sale of his beers on their premises. In 1860
he bought land in Empire Street and built a brand new brewery.
By 1882 he had established a chain of 20 houses and was able
to hand most of the day-to-day running over to his son Edward,
who in his turn went on to further expand and develop the brewery
business. By 1901 Edward had installed an automatic bottling
production line.
Edward went on to become a successful local entrepreneur and
became involved in local politics. He was instrumental in establishing
Manchester’s water supply directly from the Lake District, and
in 1908 he was elected Lord Mayor of Manchester. Despite the
anger that his election engendered in the growing northern temperance
movement; Edward went on to be re-elected for a further two
The Holt family are probably best known in the region, apart
from their fine beers, for their support and sponsorship of
Christie Hospital in Withington (of which the Holt Radium Institute
still records their family name). Christies has an international
reputation as a leader in the fight against cancer and for research
into its cure.
The Joseph Holt’s Derby Brewery has remained in the family for
over four generations and the company now own 127 pubs, mainly
in and around North Manchester.


Kilvert’s Lard

Nicholas Kilvert (Senior) was born in Over in Cheshire in 1822,
the eldest son of Thomas Kilvert, and was the founder of N Kilvert
& Sons in Trafford Park, manufacturers of Kilvert’s Lard,
the world-famous brand of cooking fat. Kilvert lived at Ashton
Lodge in Ashton on Mersey.
The origins of the family business had, in fact, begun earlier
when Nicholas’ father, Thomas Kilvert, (1799-1871), is recorded
as having moved with his wife Sarah (Vernon) to Manchester in
1821 to set up a pork butcher shop at 13 New Market, Salford,
and another later in Chorlton. He lived at White Cross Bank
in Chapel Street, Salford.
One of Nicholas Senior’s four sons, another Nicholas, (1859-1922),
lived in Brooklands in south Manchester and became Managing
Director of the company on the death of his father. This Nicholas
went on to become a Manchester City Councillor for a time.
When he died, his younger son, Harry Vernon Kilvert, (born 1862)
took up residence at Ashton Lodge. He too became MD of the company
on the death of his brother Nicholas (junior). Harry Vernon
was an important figure in local politics and was chair of Altrincham
Conservative Association. He was Knighted by Queen Victoria
for services to Business and the Community, and his wife, Annie,
had a scout troup named in her honour – “The Lady Kilvert
Own Scout Group”.

are indebted to Peter Kilvert for supplying much of this information.

William Mather MP, LLD, MInstCE


Sir William Mather, of Mather & Platt Iron Manufacturing

Industrialist, entrepreneur, humanitarian and politician, William
Mather was a resident of Woodhill House in Prestwich, and celebrated
head of the Mather & Platt Salford Ironworks Engineering
Company. He attended both Manchester and Bristol Universities
and went on to become Liberal Member of Parliament for Salford
for 1885-86, for Gorton 1889-98 and for Rossendale 1900-1904.
He was knighted in 1902.
Mather was an influential man who regularly entertained contemporary
celebrities at his residence at Woodhill House, including inventor
Thomas Edison and Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
He became a respected Industrial Relations consultant and acted
as arbitrator in many industrial disputes, notably in the national
engineers strike of 1897-1898.. He surrounded himself with men
capable of furthering his ideals in the efficient running of
industry and improvement of working conditions for the common
man. During his lifetime Mather would be responsible for many
innovations in work management. As an enlightened man with a
far-reaching vision he had a revolutionary humanitarian attitude
towards business and industrial relations. Mather’s philosophy
placed the welfare of people alongside that of profit and in
1893 at his Salford Iron Works he took the unprecedented and
controversial step of introducing an eight hour working day.

In 1845, the Mather family formed a partnership with John Platt
at Salford Iron Works to serve the expanding business of textile
finishing machines.
By 1883 William Mather had purchased the patent rights to the
Grinnell Sprinkler Aystem for the rest of the world, excluding
America. His company, Mather and Platt, became the leaders in
the British sprinkler industry.
After Sir William’s death, in 1920, he and his wife were buried
at St Mary’s Church in Prestwich, now within the Borough of

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This page last updated 24 Jan 12.