Cromwell Argus masthead

1869-1948


Available issues

October
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November
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December
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28 29 30 1 2 3 4
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Background

Region Otago
Available online 1869-1948
Alternative title(s) Cromwell Argus and Northern Gold-fields Gazette

In October 1869 George Fenwick and James Matthews, owners of the Lawrence-based Tuapeka Press and Goldfields Advocate, visited Cromwell to investigate setting up a newspaper there instead of Lawrence. They discovered that Robert Carrick was also intending to start a newspaper in Cromwell but decided to go ahead with their plans after Carrick assured them he would not proceed with his venture. However, Carrick reneged on his promise and decided to go ahead with the Cromwell Guardian. The race was on to be first and on Saturday 6 November 1869 Fenwick set off from Lawrence on horse-back with 500 copies of the first edition of the Argus strapped on at the front of his saddle. After riding all day Sunday, Fenwick arrived in Cromwell and before breakfast on Monday he had distributed all of the papers. Cromwell was not large enough to support two newspapers and the rival Cromwell Guardian only lasted a short time.

George Fenwick transferred his interest in the Argus to his brother William in 1871 and went on to be a major figure in the New Zealand newspaper industry, editing and managing the Otago Daily Times for many years and playing a key role in the establishment of the United Press Association. Matthews and William Fenwick sold the Argus to Stephen Noble Brown in 1875; Brown ran the Argus successfully for 12 years and subsequently moved to Dunedin where he was involved with the Evening Herald. William Fenwick went on to achieve prominence as editor of the Otago Witness for 27 years.

The Argus had a long-running battle with its near neighbour the Dunstan Times which was based in Clyde, fuelled by antagonism between the editors and the rivalry between Cromwell and Clyde. The tone of the relationship is exemplified by an article in the Argus in February 1876 which referred to the ‘bilious venom’ and ‘wild ravings’ of the Times.

In 1899 a rival closer to home appeared with the arrival of the Cromwell Times, established by Patrick Dunne who had previously been associated with the Mt Benger Mail. The Lake Wakatip Mail commented that the Times was launching at a time that ‘looks like a sea of trouble and an amount of cut-throat business which is good for neither God nor man’.  This proved to be prescient with the Times going into liquidation in 1900.

The last issue of the Argus was published on 26 October 1948.    

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