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Iliffe, Berry, Hulton: Hulton

Hulton

This page considers the Hulton family media interests.


It covers -

  • Hulton
  • Picture Post and Hulton Picture Library
  • the Standard and Evening Standard
  • studies

Hulton and the Berrys

Sir Edward George Hulton (1869-1925) joined his father's Manchester newspaper business in 1885. His father Edward H Hulton had worked at the Manchester Guardian - profiled here - before establishing The Sporting Chronicle in 1871, The Athletic News in 1875, the Manchester Sunday Chronicle in 1885 and the Manchester Evening Chronicle in 1897. The latter competed with Scott's Manchester Evening News.

Edward G launched the Daily Dispatch in 1900 and the Daily Sketch in 1909. He became a baronet in 1921, at which time his interests included the Evening Standard, Daily Sketch and Sunday Herald, 11 provincial titles, printers and the Topical Film Company.

In 1923 Hulton - after twenty years of disagreement with Northcliffe and Rothermere (apparently on as much of a personal as a political or commercial basis) - refused to dispose of the chain to the Harmsworths. He instead offloaded them for £6 million to Beaverbrook, who claimed to be acting as a "friend" but transferred the titles to a joint venture with Rothermere. The two magnates subsequently sold most of the papers to Allied Newspapers (Iliffe and the Berrys).

Accounts of the transaction vary. The Evening Standard claims that

Hulton lay, mortally ill, in his ground floor bedroom. His family guarded the front door to keep the predatory Lord Beaverbrook out, but Beaverbrook strolled into the bedroom through the french windows.

He had a proposition: £1 million down, £5 million more within the week. He wrote the details on a sheet of Midland Bank paper, Hulton signed it and Beaverbrook strolled back through the french windows. The family, discovering the coup, rang the bank at once. It was as they supposed: Beaverbrook did not have even the first million. Within 20 minutes he thought he had. He borrowed it from the bank and within days had sold the whole chain to Lord Rothermere, keeping the Evening Standard as commission.

Picture Post, Hulton Press and Hulton Picture Library

Sale of the chain allowed Edward H Hulton (1906-1988) to build the Hulton Press group. Although it was primarily concerned with contract printing, reflected in its eventual absorbtion by the International Publishing Corporation (IPC), the 'Third Edward' was also interested in journal publishing.

His inheritance allowed him to launch the Farmer's Weekly, Housewife and Nursing Mirror (now part of EMAP) under the Hulton Press and to acquire periodicals such as Lilliput. In 1938 he launched Picture Post, the photojournalism title that was the UK counterpart of Henry Luce's Life. In the 1950s he launched a range of childrens comics and journals, including The Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin.

Picture Post closed in 1957. Many of Hulton's printing, book, journal and comic publishing interests were acquired by Odhams Press in 1960, with that company being rebadged as Longacre Press. Longacre was bought by IPC, which passed through the maws of Reed and Robert Maxwell.

Post has an afterlife in the form of the Hulton Picture Library, originally established as the magazine's archive, later acquired by the BBC and then by Getty Images.

Hulton's nephew Jocelyn Stevens (1932- ), acquired Queen as a 25th birthday present for himself in 1957 at a cost of £10,000. He was Managing Director of the Evening Standard from 1969 to 1972, of the Daily Express from 1972–1974, of Beaverbrook Newspapers from 1974 to 1977 and Express Newspapers from 1977 to 1981.

The Standard and Evening Standard

The London daily Standard was founded by businessman Charles Baldwin in 1827 as a voice of conservatism but was distinguished by under first editor Dr Stanley Giffard for an emphasis on news, in particular commercial news from the Continent. The Times reportedly characterised it as "a stupid and priggish print". In 1857 it was acquired - along with the Morning Herald and St James Chronicle - for £16,500 by James Johnstone. The new proprietor relaunched the evening edition as the Evening Standard, after successfully slashing the morning edition's price to a penny - foreshadowing the methods and success of Northcliffe.

In 1904 the Johnstone family sold the two titles for £700,000 to Cyril Arthur Pearson (1866-1921), founder of Pearsons Weekly (1890) and the Daily Express (1900) and author of the 1902 Handwriting as an Index to Character. Pearson, who was unrelated to the founders of the Pearson group profiled elsewhere on this site, had used profits from Pearsons Weekly to expand into provincial newspaper publishing, building a chain of dailies in Manchester, Birmingham and other locations.

He amalgamated the Evening Standard with his St James Gazette but was unable to boost profitability and circulation amid the fin de siecle circulation wars and - after floating shares in the two Standards during 1908 - sold those papers in 1910 to Tory MP Davison Dalziel and Sir Alexander Henderson, who in turn sold to Edward Hulton in 1914. Pearson's provincial papers, such as the Birmingham Daily Gazette, were offloaded from 1910 onwards.

Hulton closed the morning Standard in 1916 and sold the Evening Standard as part of the 1923 deal. Beaverbrook (who had acquired Pearson's Daily Express in 1916 after it absorbed the Pall Mall Gazette that year) gained control of the Evening Standard, which remained a key element of his group. The Evening Standard merged with competing title the Evening News; it was acquired by the Daily Mail group in the 1980s.

Studies

There has been no major biography of the three Hultons. Insights are offered by volume two of Stephen Koss's The Rise & Fall of the Political Press in Britain (London: Hamish Hamilton 1984)

For the Standard see Plant Here the Standard (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1995) by Dennis Griffiths