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The West Gippsland Gazette was begun by a sea captain who at the age of 37 decided he wanted to found a newspaper.
Albert Harvey produced the first West Gippsland Gazette on July 5, 1898.
His brother William Britton Harvey, who had been operating the Guardian in Warragul on lease, joined Albert.
Albert Harvey had grown up in Littlehampton in Sussex. He was apprenticed to the sea at the age of 14 but a problem with his eyes caused by the use of binoculars forced a career change.
In those early years The Gazette served three shires, Warragul, Buln Buln and Narracan.
The first edition was eight pages and included a variety of local news reports from Narracan Shire Council and the Oddfellows and even an historical account of a battle during the American Civil War.
The first edition was well supported by advertising including a large advertisement by the Orient Hotel, a business still operating today.
Warragul was a fast growing community in the late 1890s. 1700 of the shire's population of 3800 lived in Warragul. The major towns of Bloomfield, Buln Buln and Darnum each had 100.
Centred on Drouin the shire of Buln Buln had a total population of 4100.
For many years the eight-page publication included a four page supplement, which appears to have been printed in Melbourne and probably railed to Warragul for insertion with the four pages, produced locally.
Despite Harvey's lack of experience in newspapers The West Gippsland Gazette did well and earned the praise of the Cyclopedia of Victoria which in 1905 praised it for its "brief and bright, pithy and to the point articles which denote on the part of the editor an accurate appreciation of the interests and requirements of the district which it represent, and of the people among whom it circulates."
Harvey changed the title to the Warragul Gazette in January 1931 after reflecting that Warragul was generally accepted as the capital of West Gippsland.
A son, A.E. Bert Harvey took over management of the paper but illness forced him to sell it in March 1937.
A legacy to Harvey still remains in Warragul with the house he built which was called Highclere. Built in 1901 it is still a feature in Highclere St, Warragul.
The Gazette was bought by James Vincent Gannon, the youngest child of the founder of Drouin's first newspaper.
Two months later Gannon converted the Gazette's format from broadsheet to tabloid.
Other changes were immediate. The women's column which had appeared on the front page was put further back in the pages and news was put firmly in its place on the front page. With Gannon's first edition was coverage of the Neerim Show including results. Sport was included together for the first time whereas previously it had been scattered through the paper.
But again ill health dominated the sale of the paper.
Gannon published The Gazette until August 1, 1951 when he sold it to Keith Staniforth Hopkins who sold the Echo in South Gippsland to enable him to make the Warragul purchase.
Keith Hopkins was born at Richmond in 1912 the son of an itinerant newspaper man George Hopkins. He started more than 16 newspapers in Victoria and New South Wales.
Keith began his newspaper career at the aged of 17 when he joined his father in Heyfield.
After the family moved to Melbourne during the depression Keith worked on the family owned Buzz in Murumbeena.
In 1934 George and Keith launched the Leongatha Echo. During World War 11 the paper was run by Keith's wife Joyce and Keith's sisters Olive and Nita while their husbands served in the war in North Africa and New Guinea.
George died in 1943.
At Warragul Keith appointed the first non-family editor. Tas Vertigan began as editor in 1957 to enable Keith to concentrate on a managerial role and building advertising revenue.
Tas edited the paper until 1967 and the succeeding editors have been Kevin Richardson 1967-74, Duncan Patterson 1974-78, John Higgins 1978-82, Col Murray 1983-84, Dwight Smith 1984-93, Carolyn Turner 1993-now.
Keith established the business as K.S. Hopkins and Sons in 1960, with sons Brian, Drew and Philip each having an interest.
Keith's wife Joyce helped out in the office while staff member Marilyn Loveland visited the Rome Olympics. She stayed on and ran the office for 19 years.
By the time of the Queen's visit in 1954 The Gazette was a busy newspaper with many stories on the front page and a wide range of advertising throughout its 18 pages. The edition with the Queen was quite a spread for its time.
In 1965 the Hopkins family purchased the Trafalgar News.
In 1969 the company joined with the Elliott Newspaper Group to buy the free paper The Latrobe Valley Express and Keith became managing director. Joyce and eldest son Brian took over the managerial role at The Gazette.
Keith turned the Morwell printery into a highly successful regional operation printing The Express and the Gazette as well as The Great Southern Star, which was previously the Leongatha Echo.
Keith worked long hours sometimes up to 90 a week and belonged to the generation of newspaper men who could do all jobs involved in newspaper production; reporter, linotype operator, compositor, seller of advertising and manager.
In 1974 the Pettit family sold The Guardian to David Syme and Co, publishers of The Age.
Tony Pettit, The Guardian's managing director had reported local events for 48 years.
After the sale of the Guardian, K. S. Hopkins and sons and David Syme and Co rationalised the newspaper situation in West Gippsland. The 95-year-old Guardian was incorporated in The Gazette. The Hopkins family amalgamated the Bunyip and Garfield Express and the Drouin Independent and published those until 1981 when the West Gippsland Trader was born.
Keith retired in August 1980, but continued as a director of Warragul Regional Newspapers until August 1994. He died in May 1995.
His son, Brian Hopkins, continued to run the Gazette until 2013 when he "semi-retired" but is still chairman of Warragul Regional Newspapers and maintains a close interest in operations.
Brian's stepson, Andrew Schreyer, is now general manager and advertising manager.
Today we publish The Gazette every Tuesday and The Trader on Thursdays with both having a circulation of more than 11,000 in a population area of 36,000, mainly serving the Baw Baw Shire but taking in some of Cardinia Shire to the west.