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Title : Register Register
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Source : South Australian gazette and colonial register, 18 June 1836, p. 1
Date of creation : 1836
Format : Newspaper
Catalogue record
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Description :

South Australia's first newspaper was the South Australian gazette and colonial register, later titled simply, the Register. The Register was founded by partners George Stevenson and Robert Thomas, in London, shortly before the two men and their families set sail for the new British colony of South Australia. Thomas was a Fleet Street seller of law books, and Stevenson had a varied career, but was then the editor of an English newspaper. The first issue of the newspaper was printed in London in June 1836, outlining the publishing venture, and promoting the new experimental colony. After many problems, the second issue was published a year later in a rush hut off Hindley Street. The Register experimented with daily publication from late 1844 until mid 1845, but from the beginning of 1850 until its demise the newspaper was published six days per week.

In 1842 James Allen moved the newspaper offices to the corner of Rundle and King William Streets, to the block which later became known as the 'Beehive Corner'. In 1853 the Register moved from here to a building in Grenfell Street. The premises were progressively enlarged, with a three storey addition and tower added in 1866. In 1909 the offices were completely rebuilt under the architects Garlick and Jackman. From 1854 steam was used to power the Register's printing presses, with linotype printing machines being introduced in 1886, and stereotype machinery in 1892. Originally priced at sixpence per issue, in 1892 with the cost savings brought by the new printing technologies, the price dropped to one penny.

The Register amalgamated with the Adelaide Observer in 1845 under the ownership of John Stephens. From this time the Observer became the Register's weekend news summary and contained expanded sporting and other leisure reading and supplements. In 1868 the firm bought the Evening Journal which became the Register's evening newspaper until the Journal was sold to the founders of the News in 1923.

The Register was South Australia's most important newspaper until the Advertiser was founded (by an ex-Register employee) in 1858 - although at various periods other shorter-lived newspapers provided stiff competition. The Register and the Advertiser maintained a running and very public opposition throughout the nineteenth century, however it was not until Langdon Bonython took over the Advertiser in the 1880s, improving its level of reporting and production, that a genuine competition was created. The Register was more conservative in its opinions, while the Advertiser under Bonython tended to be slightly more progressive - or more than it had been under the Puritan Barrow's ownership.

From the 1880s the half-tone process for reproducing photographs in newspapers was being used and the Observer seems to have been the first South Australian newspaper to employ this technique from March 1887, printing portraits of prominent individuals. Full photographic illustrations on glossy paper appear as supplements in the Observer from September 1895. The half-tone process was expensive and used only infrequently in the Register itself, however from 1929 the newspaper became a largely pictorial newspaper. In 1931 the Register finally succumbed to the economic pressures of the Great Depression, being bought out by its old competitor, the Advertiser.
See Extracts from the diary of Mary Thomas for a colourful account of life in the Thomas family.
Related names :

Allen, James, 1806-1886

Bonython, John Langdon, Sir, 1848-1939

Stephens, John, 1806-1850

Stevenson, George, 1799-1856

Thomas, Robert, 1781-1860

Thomas, Mary, 1823-1881

Coverage year : 1836
Further reading :

Calder, William Cormack. Personal papers, 1858-1905, PRG 223

Depasquale, Paul. A critical history of South Australian literature, 1836-1930, with subjectively annotated bibliographies, Warradale, S. Aust.: Pioneer Books, 1978

Marquis, Len. Address by Len Marquis [sound recording], 19 April 1988, OH 142/6

Pitt, G.H. The press in South Australia, 1836-1850, Adelaide, S. Aust.: The Wakefield Press, 1946

'Register, Observer and Evening journal: starting of new machinery, an interesting gathering' Pictorial Australian, April/May 1893, pp. 62-67

South Australian register [collected pamphlets relating to the Register newspaper], 1887-1911

Sowden, William. Our pioneer press [manuscript], 1926, PRG 41/Box 2

Thomas, Evan Kyffin. Proprietors of the Register (June 1836-January 1929) : list prepared from original documents, Adelaide, S. Aust.: Register, 1931

Duncan, Beth Mary Thomas : founding mother : the life and times of a South Australian pioneer Kent Town, S. Aust. : Wakefield Press, 2007

Hope, Penelope. Voyage of the Africaine: a collection of journals, letters and extracts from contemporary publications South Yarra, Vic.: Heinemann Educational Australia, 1968



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