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Iliffe, Berry, Hulton: the Berrys

Berry: Camrose and Kemsley

This profile considers the Berry family of the UK.


It covers -

  • introduction
  • history
  • the Morning Post
  • studies

Introduction

William Ewert Berry (1879-1954), James Gomer Berry (1883-1968) and Henry Seymour Berry (1877-1928) - enobled as Viscount Camrose, Viscount Kemsley and Lord Buckland - built groups that at various times included the Times (now with Murdoch), the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph (acquired by Conrad Black's Hollinger in 1986 after a botched move out of Fleet Street), the Financial Times, the Graphic, the Daily Dispatch, the Daily Sketch, the Manchester Evening Chronicle and the Sunday Chronicle.

At the peak of their influence they controlled over two national and six provincial morning papers, eight provincial evening papers, eight provincial weeklies and about seventy periodicals.

History

William and Gomer Berry began as apprentices on the Merthyr Tydfil Times in Wales, moving to London in the late 1890s and forming a partnership in 1902. Henry concentrated on the family's real estate and coal trading interests, eventually the largest in Wales, and a career as an industrialist that included a stake in engineering group Guest Keen Nettlefold (GKN).

William launched Advertising World in 1901 and Boxing in 1909. He acquired the Sunday Times in 1915 and the Financial Times (FT) along with St Clements Press in 1919.

The brothers formed Allied Newspapers in 1924 with Edward Iliffe, acquiring the Hulton provincial titles from Rothermere and Beaverbrook in 1924 and the Daily Sketch in 1925. It bought Amalgamated Press in 1926, the Edward Lloyd chain in 1927 and the Daily Telegraph in 1928. Henry's interests in the Western Mail and minor Welsh newspapers passed to his brothers in 1928.

In 1937 they bought out Iliffe and split their interests. Camrose retained the Daily Telegraph, Amalgamated Press and the Financial Times (FT). Kemsley - renaming Allied Newspapers as Kemsley Newspapers - took the Sunday Times, Daily Graphic and provincial titles.

The two groups declined after the 1939-45 War. Kemsley sold the Daily Graphic to Rothermere in 1952 and withdrew from a bid for a UK ITV television licence in 1955, a mistake avoided by Roy Thomson who used STV - "a licence to print money" - to buy control of the Kemsley newspapers in 1959. That deal included the Sunday Times and regional newspaper operations in Aberdeen, Middlesborough, Blackburn, Sheffield, Manchester, Cardiff and Newcastle.

Camrose - and son Michael Berry, enobled as Lord Hartwell - disposed of the Financial Times in 1957, concentrating their attention on the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.

A paternalist regime and problems with finance crippled plans by the Camrose interests to transfer operations from Fleet Street. Conrad Black's Hollinger accordingly moved from a small stake to control of the Telegraphs in 1986.

The family was not left penniless. In 1993 Hartwell's younger son Nicholas was reported to have made £21 million during a fight for control of the asset-rich Manchester Ship Canal Company. He acquired control of the Mintel market research group and Intersport sportswear group, with an estimated worth in 2004 of over £90 million.

With his wife and sister-in-law he holds the dominant interest in publisher Marie Claire (inc Marie Claire, Marie-Claire Maison, Avantages, Famili and Cuisine et vins de France), which is 42% owned by Lagardere's Hachette arm. The group was established by industrialist Jean Prouvost (1885-1978), founder of Paris-Match and dominant stockholder of Le Figaro before selling to Robert Hersant.

The Morning Post

In 1937 the Telegraph absorbed the conservative daily Morning Post, famously edited by Howell Arthur Gwynne (1865-1950), who had successfully intrigued to overthow wartime PM Herbert Asquith and Foreign Minister George Curzon. Gwynne had serviced as a Reuters correspondent before becoming editor of Cyril Pearson's London Standard in 1905 and of the Morning Post in 1911.

The Morning Post dated from 1772 and during its early years featured writers such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and Lamb. By the 1850s, when it was acquired by the Crompton papermaking family, it was the major rival of The Times. In 1848 Scottish journalist Peter Borthwick became editor, replaced by his son Algernon in 1852. Algernon Borthwick (1830-1908) acquired the newspaper in 1877; like his father he sat as a Conservative MP in the House of Commons and was became the first Baron Glenesk in 1895. His son Oliver (1873-1905) acted as business manager and editor. On Glenesk's death control passed to his daughter Lilias (1871-1965), wife of Seymour Henry, 7th Earl Bathurst (1864-1943).

The paper was successful under Gwynne but in 1924 the Bathursts sold it to a consortium headed by the Duke of Northumberland (1880-1930) for £470,000. The Duke is now best known as an example of the interwar aristocratic right and principal of protofascist newsletter The Patriot (1922-1950). The Morning Post was acquired by William Berry in 1937, supposedly with the intention that it would remain a separate title.

Studies

Dennis Hamilton's Editor-in-Chief: Fleet Street Memoirs (London: Hamish Hamilton 1989) offers an insider's account of management failure as the cause for sale of the Kemsley part of the empire to Roy Thomson. Duff Hart-Davis' The House The Berrys Built (London: Hutchinson 1957) and William Camrose: Giant of Fleet Street (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1992) by Michael Berry (Lord Hartwell) are more reverential. Gordon Allan's Fleet Street Round the Clock (London: Alpha 1997) and A Short Walk Down Fleet Street (London: Alpha 1999) offers a journalist's-eye view.

Volume 2 of Stephen Koss's two volume The Rise & Fall of the Political Press in Britain (London: Hamish Hamilton 1984) considers Allied Newspapers.

Henry Berry features in A History of GKN: Volume 2: The Growth of a Business, 1918-1945 (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1990) by Edgar Jones.

For Glenesk see Reginald Lucas' soporific Lord Glenesk & the 'Morning Post' (London: Alston Rivers 1910). Perspectives on Standard and Morning Post editor H A Gwynne are provided by Koss, The Rasp of War: the letters of HA Gwynne to Lady Bathurst, 1914-1918 (London: Sidgwick & Jackson 1988) edited by Keith Wilson, Dan Stone's Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933-1939 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2003) and Wilson's 2003 'A Venture in 'The Caverns of Intrigue': The Conspiracy Against Lord Curzon and his Foreign Policy, 1922-3'. For Northumberland and The Patriot see Markku Ruotsila's 2004 'The Antisemitism of the Eighth Duke of Northumberland's the Patriot, 1922-1930' (PDF).

Prouvost was profiled in Marc Martin's Medias et journalistes de la Republique (Paris: Editions Odile Jacob 1997) and in Marcel Haedrich's thinner Citizen Prouvost: le portrait incontournable d'un grand patron de la presse française (Paris: Filipacchi 1995).