The second half of the Nineteenth Century was a period of town formation across Northern NSW, the broader New England.
With time, the slab buildings of early European settlement were replaced by more substantial structures that still form the core of our built landscape.
The squatters, merchants and still small professional and trade classes all faced communications problems.
The squatters and their agents needed to place legal advertisements about absconding servants, debts and stolen stock.
The merchants and professionals wanted to advertise their wares in town and into the countryside beyond.
They also wanted to promote their towns and villages. All groups had a need for printing such as invoices, flyers, letterhead and catalogues.
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Merchants and townspeople combined to sponsor the formation of newspapers.
In Armidale, for example, a public meeting was convened on 1 December 1855 to consider the best way to establish a local paper for the New England district.
A fund raising committee was formed and finally raised £89 12s and 6d.
The results of the meeting were advertised in the Maitland Mercury, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Empire. Two Mercury staff members decided to accept the challenge.
Early in 1856, William Hipgrave and Walter Craigie loaded their newly acquired printing press and other kit onto a bullock dray and set out from Maitland for Armidale. It took them 27 days.
They called their paper the Armidale Express, with the first edition appearing on 5 April 1856.
The genesis of Tamworth's first paper, the Tamworth Examiner and General Advertiser for the Northern Districts of New South Wales, later just the Tamworth Examiner, was somewhat similar.
Action began when printer John Ambrose Gallagher wrote from Yass to a number of Tamworth business houses canvassing support for the establishment of a local newspaper.
The response was positive, with business owners pledging their support and that of the townsfolk, even offering a small subsidy to help Gallagher.
Gallagher declined the subsidy but moved to Tamworth, with the first edition of the paper appearing on 13 April 1859.
The formation of the Tamworth Examiner illustrates another thread in the history of the New England media, the close relationship between newspaper formation and political interests.
In responding to Gallagher, local business interests warned him that the squatters would oppose the paper unless it supported their position.
By contrast, many townspeople supported the paper because it might weaken squatter power and further Tamworth's growth.