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Harvey Berrow Tymbs was a good journalist and a good editor of Berrow's Worcester Journal. He was also mayor of the city in 1831 and when Lord Russell's Reform Bill became the big political issue of that time Tymbs got into terrible trouble. He had strong objections to the Bill and refused to call a Guildhall meeting to support it


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Highly respected as he was, the Mayor was told in no uncertain terms that the traditions of his office required him to be impartial and that he had failed in his duty by not calling the meeting and taking the chair, or even attending. However, he rode out these criticisms and continued to serve on the council as an alderman for some years. Before Tymbs took sole control of the Journal in 1816 (after five years as a partner with his father and elder brother Henton) the editorial content of the paper had been somewhat neglected in favour of the bread and butter business of establishing the Journal and making it pay. But Tymbs, the grandson of Harvey Berrow who put his name into the title, brought a different outlook to the paper.

He was an educated and a cultured man with a compassionate feeling for the poor and underprivileged which expressed itself through a devotion to, and financial support of, charitable work to an extent which led an obituarist to write of him that ''he made his benevolence a business.'' His benevolent interest in his fellow man sprang from a purely personal inclination. It was not inspired (as often was the case in those days) by any Liberal-radical influence, still less by Socialist doctrine. Socialism at that time was only a word and in 1840 the Journal carried a leader headed ''Socialism'' and began, ''do not be startled, gentle reader, at the disgusting word.''

No, Harvey Berrow Tymbs, despite his compassionate outlook, was a hard-line Tory, running a Tory newspaper, which was why he saw great danger in Lord Russell's Bill with its proposals to enfranchise vast numbers of people who had previously not had a vote. He saw it threatening the land-owning classes' control of Parliament and handing it over to radicals and revolutionaries. Not all his Tory friends agreed with him, nor even members of his own family. Worst of all he had a partner, Henry Deighton, whom he had taken into the business as a young man and had worked amicably with for years. Deighton took the opposite view and the relationship between the two must have been severely strained, the more so since when Tymbs was Mayor, Deighton was his city chamberlain.

At the Guildhall meeting at which Tymbs was publicly ticked off Deighton was not only present but was the seconder of the principal resolution expressing support for the Bill. Family disagreement came into it when, at another Guildhall meeting the chairman was John Curwood, a barrister whose wife was Tymbs's cousin. They were both grandchildren of Harvey Berrow. It was even suggested by one speaker that Worcester's long record of loyalty to the Sovereign - as the Faithful City - had been jeopardised by Tymbs. This assertion was based on the fact that ''a monarch so generous, so enlightened and so beloved as William the Fourth'' had openly expressed his sympathy with the Reform Bill! So, to put it mildly Harvey Berrow Tymbs was in the municipal doghouse and there was no doubt that his year of office as Mayor, which most holders of that office look forward to with pleasure, was clouded by this controversy.

One would have thought that if his convictions were so strong as to over-ride his mayoral obligations they would have been reflected in his handling of the affair in the Journal. Maybe it was in deference to the views of Deighton but in the paper Tymbs presented a balanced view, putting the arguments for both sides, and he carried a full report of the meetings at which he himself had been so severely criticised. He also went to great lengths to get to his readers as fast as possible the news from London of the first and second readings of the Bill. Parliament passed the second reading in the early hours of March 23, 1831, and Worcester citizens were reading about it by 4.30pm the same day. In the days before railways and the telegraph this was quite a feat.

Tymbs was one of the early editors who associated himself so closely with a wide variety of local organisations that he was often creating the news which figured in his paper. He was a city councillor and alderman for many years, a magistrate, a governor of the Worcester Royal Infirmary and of the Six Masters Charity (which financed - and still does - Worcester Royal Grammar School), a trustee of Worcester Savings Bank, a director of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, an active promoter of the River Severn Navigation, as well as serving on many church and charitable committees. These activities provided much of the news in Berrow's Worcester Journal in those days and in covering them the members of the reporting staff must have had to do so frequently under the eye of their chief. Probably because of Tymbs's own involvement local matters were now being fully reported rather than briefly noted as in the past and after many years of advertising pre-eminence he put news over the top of advertisements on the main news pages.

One of the first things he did when he took over control was to smarten the appearance of the paper by ordering a new face of type to be specially cast for the Journal by the well-known type-founder Fry. He also changed the type of the title, or masthead, from the fussy earlier style to an Old English fount which was favoured by most papers for the next hundred years (and still is by the Daily Telegraph). Then, in 1836, when he might have been considered at the peak of his career as a newspaper owner, and at the age of 49, he severed his connection with the Journal and retired into private life.

Full Chapter List
Chapter 1: A Place in History
Chapter 2: Enter Mr Berrow
Chapter 3: Fatalities in the City
Chapter 4: First Woman Editor
Chapter 5: Mayoral Conflict
Chapter 6: To The Present Day
Chapter 7: Newspaper History


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