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Western Gazette - an Appreciation

At one time, the Western Gazette was the most widely read newspaper across Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. Apart from the readership in the three counties it was also highly valued by those who had left these districts. One reader wrote:

‘I am not certain about Tibet or Mars but it is quite safe to say there is not a country on earth which does not receive its quota of Western Gazettes. In hundreds of cases, it is the only remaining link between exiles and the land of their birth.’

For one man in Kenya, it was reckoned to be part of his ritual every Sunday to sit on the equator and read his Gazette. Another read it overlooking Lake Victoria ‘not far from slimy crocodiles nearly 30 ft. long and hippopotami almost as big as submarines.’ In a little community not far from Calgary, in Alberta, Canada there were six families who regularly received the ‘Western’. Another, who had worked himself into a position of trust on the Canadian Pacific Railway called it the ‘Zet’, at one time its nickname in the Dorset villages. An old trapper in Canada, nicknamed the ‘Blandford poacher’ received his ‘old Western’ from his brother and what he read first was the police court news from Blandford and Wimborne. In all probability in the fullness of time his stiffened body would be found in his lonely shack on the illimitable prairie with old copies of the Western Gazette, his only reading material.  In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, there was the same popular link between thousands of people and their homeland.

Many hundred copies of the Western Gazette were sent overseas from the publishing offices but still more were sent by friends and relatives. Many decades before the internet caused the closure of so many local newspapers, this writer to the Western Gazette prophetically wrote:

‘I have no doubt the Western Gazette will live and prosper until time and invention scrap newspapers as they scrap everything else in the unfolding of evolution.’

(Source: Western Gazette - Friday 24th August 1934.)

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