Historic newspaper’s archives moved to public ownership

Winston Churchill (former Oldham MP) electioneering in Oldham in 1945.

The archives of the Oldham Evening Chronicle, which closed last year after more than 160 years in publication, have been saved for public use.

An historic trove of documents, newspaper clippings and images will be accessible for public use at the new Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre.

The fate of the former archives of the newspaper was uncertain after it printed its last-ever edition in August.

The ‘Chron’ had been publishing as a weekday daily since 1854 and was one of the last local independent newspapers left in England.

An independent assessment of its archives found that the photographic and documentary archive at the Union Street office was “outstanding and absolutely vital for telling the story of the borough of Oldham”.

CREDIT Ian Beesley 
Photograph of the abandoned Oldham Evening Chronicle newsroom

Oldham Council has since worked closely with the joint administrators of the newspaper to ensure the collection is saved.

The archives have now been transferred to public ownership.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: “This is brilliant news – it would have been a tragedy for this important collection to have been lost to future generations.

“So many Oldham residents appeared in the Chronicle’s pages or depended upon it for information and the new Heritage and Arts Centre will be the perfect home for this unique collection.

“I’m thrilled we’ve been able to get this deal done and would like to thank KPMG for their support in transferring this archive to our stewardship.”

Paul Flint and Jonathan Marston of KPMG were appointed joint administrators of Hirst, Kidd & Rennie on August 31 2017, and shared the view the archives should be placed in public ownership.

Flint said: “We are delighted to have been able to preserve this historic collection which provides such an important and fascinating record of OIdham’s recent past. Ensuring that the archives will be available for generations to come was an important consideration during the administration process, and we are grateful for the support of Oldham Council in facilitating their transfer to their new home.”
Oldham Council is looking to progress a grant funding application to assist with funding the work needed to catalogue and digitise the collection.