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Panpa Bulletin : March 2007
Bradley newspaper chain and Once labelled the "Northcliffe of the West'" John Arthur Bradley was about to turn 15 when he was indentured on May 6, 1889, to William Barnaby Howarth, proprietor of the Grenfell Record, for a seven-year print- ing apprenticeship. His stipulated working hours were from 8 am to 6 pm, or later if necessary. During the apprenticeship, Bradley at times brought out the Record sin- gle-handed. In May 1896 Howarth inscribed across the original indenture: "Served the full period with great satisfaction." Bradley worked as a printer on an unspecified Parkes newspaper, before he joined the Cobar Leader in 1897. In late 1898, he joined another printer in leasing the Leader for eight years. The drunken bouts of his partner persuaded Bradley to leave the Cobar Leader when the lease expired in 1906. The citizens of Cobar presented the departing editor and printer with an il- luminated address which said he had conducted the paper "in a fearless and independent spirit", which had gained for him "great popularity and the reputation of an able journalist". Eighty people attended a valedictory dinner in his honour. Bradley met Gertrude Lucy Jeffery during his years in Cobar, but did not marry her until April 27, 1910, by which time he had established himself successfully in Temora. A window of opportunity presented itself with the election to the NSW Parliament in November 1906 of John Louis Treflé, the proprietor and editor of the Temora Independent. Treflé, who represented Castlereagh and became a Labor Minister in 1911, had bought the Independent in 1895 and had used its columns to espouse the Labor cause. He was aware that his parlia- mentary duties would not leave enough time to manage the paper from day to day. Bradley was admitted to a partnership with Treflé on January 1, 1907. Treflé agreed to provide the plant, premises and equipment and Bradley to manage and edit the paper. Bradley soon put his editorial stamp on the paper. "His reports of all local activities were impar- tial and generous --- a policy which was the keystone of his newspaper success." Bradley imbued the paper with a more impartial and independent spirit that pre- viously and his more conservative views closely reflected those held by the local farming population. Treflé kept good his end of the partner- ship agreement and midway through 1907 there was a major upgrading of the plant and equipment of the Independent. The installation of the first power-driven press made the Independent one of the best- equipped country newspaper offices. The Treflé-Bradley partnership was so successful that in June 1908 it launched another paper, the Barmedman Banner, on a gold field between Temora and Wyalong. Treflé became a director of the Independent Cable Association of Australasia when it was formed in 1910 and served in that role until his death on January 11, 1915 at the age of 50. Bradley acquired the Treflé family interest from the estate and became sole proprietor of both the Temora Independent and the Barmedman Banner. The next expansionary move came before the end of World War I when Bradley established the Ardlethan-Beckom Times on February 21, 1918. He consolidated this venture before establishing, on August 14, 1924, the Barellan Leader, leading Patrick Sullivan of the Gundagai Independent to remark that "Mr J A Bradley, of Temora, has a weakness for starting new papers". In 1929 TM Shakespeare labelled Bradley the "Northcliffe of the West". Bradley himself always recalled the reac- tion of the Barellan publican to the first is- sue of the Leader: "Naked Nellie has a rag at last." (Barellan = Bare Ellen = Naked Nellie.) Meanwhile, in 1921, Bradley had taken the unusual step of supporting an opposition venture in Temora. George Scott offered to sell the Temora Star to Leslie Patrick Higgins, who had demon- strated great reliability as a printer at the Independent since 1903, but Higgins did not have enough money. He consulted his employer, Bradley, who decided to become a silent partner with Higgins in the Star from July 1921. Temora people, even staff members of the two newspapers, did not know that Bradley had an interest in his opposition paper, something which led to economies for both papers, such as taking the type for some stories from one paper to the other paper, inserting a new headline and pub- lishing them again. In 1935 Bradley and Higgins agreed that the Independent would absorb the Star and that they would buy the South Coast Register, Berry, for Higgins to run. From July 1935, the Temora Independent, incorporating the Star, became a tri-weekly. Arthur Stafford James Bradley (b. 1944), son of Arthur Joseph Bradley, bought a one-third interest in the Independent in 1979 from other third-generation family members, and became the sole proprietor in 1980 with the purchase of the remain- ing two-thirds interest held by the second generation: his father and uncle. Just as Thomas J Hebblewhite and Henry Pinn provided a solid thread of editorial continuity for the Daniel family at the Goulburn Evening Penny Post from 1885- 1925, so did Alan Kevin Bent for the Bradley family at the Temora Independent for 41 years. He produced much of the news con- tent of the Independent from March 1955 until his retirement in April 1996. He used to write many of the stories for three issues of the Independent each week --- it became bi-weekly in 1978 --- plus the Lake Cargelligo News. He was effectively the editor for about 25 years but did not know how long he was regarded as editor (16 years) until he was farewelled. Not that it worried him. There was never a day on which he had not been happy to go to work for the Bradleys. Bradley, at 62, demonstrated his con- cern for the future by creating a partner- ship that included his two sons, John Jeffery (1911-1993) and Arthur Joseph, (1914-1996) and his wife. Gertrude Bradley had helped in the expansion of the Temora Independent and the establishment of the papers at Ardlethan and Barellan, and at Temora she even helped in such practical ways as making the glue to paste up the papers for mailing. As soon as the papers were ready to be folded, a printer's devil would rush out the back of the Independent premises, cross the lane and fetch the jar of warm, freshly made glue from the Bradleys' back table. When the family partnership was By Rod Kirkpatrick 36 PANPA Bulletin March 2007 history