Best-known for his lifetime commitment to newspapers, Sir Ray Tindle – who died last Saturday aged 95 – was also noted for his fascination with innovative engineering.
One expression of this was a passion for old cars, as a participant in and sponsor of the UK’s world-renowned London-to-Brighton Run. He had several veteran cars in his collection, and celebrated the fiftieth ‘run’ in 2013 in a cherished single-cylinder 1904 Speedwell Dogcart.
Groundbreaking newspaper printing technology also had a place in his affections, as the owner of one of the last half-dozen Cossar web-fed letterpress machines in the world… as GXpress readers may remember.
Introduced in the 1900s, the Cossar that provided the technology with which small news publishers – not long before having embraced Otmar Merganthaler’s Linotype – could produce complete editions quickly without the expense of a foundry, which had been obligatory for their big-city contemporaries, and of course Tindle had one or perhaps two.
They went hand-in-hand with small local papers, of which Tindle also had a few – 220 at one count – and was of course much better known.
Obituaries this week describe him as a newspaperman through-and-through, “who never gave up and never sold up”.
Seeds of his local newspaper empire were sown on a troop ship with the infantry regiment in which he served in Asia. On his return, he reportedly used his £300 (A$530) demob payment to purchase his first newspaper masthead, the Tooting & Balham Gazette.
Many more followed, and Farnham-based Tindle Newspapers launched and acquired titles in Wales, Surrey, Hampshire, Essex, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Ireland, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man, as well as radio stations in some of these.
His proud boast was that every title he had purchased or created had been self-financed, meaning that the business was not at the mercy of the banks or shareholders when times were tough. He retired as chairman of the Surrey Advertiser in 1977 after 35 years and also as a director for 18 years on the main board of The Guardian & Manchester Evening News. He was chairman for ten years of the Belfast Newsletter, the UK’s oldest provincial daily, a founder shareholder and, for many years, an alternate director, of Capital Radio.
He was elected president of the Newspaper Society – now known as the News Media Association – in 1971, and was its honorary treasurer for 14 years. He completed 50 years of involvement with the Newspaper Society in 2002.
His service in the industry included the chairmanship or vice-chairmanship of most of the main industry committees in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the founder chairman of the Weekly Newspaper Bureau.
Sir Ray was also a past president of the Wessex Newspaper Association, of the Greater London Newspaper Association and of the Young Newspaperman’s Association. Add a list of his other commitments – including the Guild of Editors, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, of which he was master in 1985, and many industry and local charities – and you are left wondering at his amazing energy.
And if not the person who coined the term “hyperlocal”, he was the one who put it into action, impressing staff with the need to pack the columns with “local names, places and faces”.
He is survived by his wife, Lady Tindle, son Owen – who is now chairman of Tindle Newspapers – and granddaughter Maisy.