The St Albans Clock Tower



A short-lived newspaper published by
Stobo Aston
at his Printing Works, 9, St Peter's Street, St Albans

The following is based on a damaged copy of the Clock Tower dated 4th November 1896



The newspaper consists of 8 pages of three columns per page. Of the 24 columns available 9 columns occupied by adverts by local businesses and 7 columns were directly or indirectly related to the local council elections. An account of the St Albans Debating Society on "Has Ancient Greece done more for civilization than Ancient Rome" occupied 1 columns and would appear to have little topical relevance to anyone but members of the Debating Society.  Another 1 columns was devoted to the account of a single football match. Two letters to the editor occupy virtually 2 columns and there was a column of national news. This left 2 columns for all other local news, births and deaths, coming events, etc.

Clearly a "special issue" which relates to an important local election is not a typical issue but there are many things which suggest that the paper was struggling. Virtually all the adverts were from local shopkeepers and are of a type you might expect to see in a contempory parish magazine - and I would suspect they were sold at a large discount for repeat issues. Apart from a few small adverts for rooms to let there are none relating to, for example, the auctioning of property, suggesting that businesses were not using it for date sensitive advertising. There is also little evidence of a competent reporter in action.

 Compared with the Herts Advertiser at the time it is a very pathetic publication, and it is not surprising that it closed down .

Extracted Old News

Observations on Truman Press's Publications

The Editor - Stabo Aston

David Stabo Aston was born in 1862 at Tarporley, Cheshire, the son of a "draper and landowner". He was living with his parents in Tarporley in 1871, and in 1881 he was a printer in lodgings in London. In 1885 he married Florence Emilie Williamson in the Watford area and by 1886 he is listed as having a "fancy repository" at 4 St Peters Street, St Albans, and had started a family. In 1891 he is recorded in the census as a "printer, stationer and fancy dealer". The directory listing of "fancy repository" is unchanged in the 1895 directory, the year that the Clock Tower started publication. He is not listed in the 1899 directory and in 1901 he was employed as a "draper's accountant" in Putney, their youngest child being born in St Albans in 1896. [Sources census, Kelly's Directories for Hertfordshire, FreeBMD.]

This history is compatible with his having been set up in business by a well-to-do father in his early twenties - and running into serious financial difficulties at the time the Clock Tower folded.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page created June 2008