Sad news today is that the popular Walsall Advertiser newspaper has ceased publication after 40 years and 2,059 editions, leaving the Wolverhampton Express & Star-published Walsall & Willenhall Chronicle as the last of our local borough-focused conventional weekly print newspapers.
The Walsall Advertiser, a Tamworth-based paper which has long been owned by London group Trinity Mirror, which also famously closed down the historic Walsall Observer in 2009 after 141 years of continuous publication, was a well-liked and substantial freesheet, although perhaps not so much by the earlier publishers of the Walsall Observer, then West Midlands Press, which was badly shaken at the time of its arrival in the town, and was eventually also forced into being given away.
In January 2017, the Advertiser, which was not the first paper of that name in the town (the original being published by Victorian printer and publisher W. Henry Robinson and his father J.R. Robinson from 1857), was merged with another Trinity Mirror freesheet, the Great Barr Observer, in a move which the then-editor said brought together two “cherished news brands”, though no local papers have actually been published in Walsall for many years, nor have there been any local newspapers present in the town since the Express & Star pulled out of their new, purpose-built Walsall offices in 2009.
Observing the Advertiser
Separate editions of the Walsall Advertiser and the Great Barr Observer continued to be published for each area, featuring localised front page and sports coverage, and were variously known as the ‘Walsall Advertiser incorporating the Great Barr Observer’ or ‘the Great Barr Observer incorporating the Walsall Advertiser’ depending on where distributed. The Advertiser and Observer also retained their own websites until last year, when they were absorbed into the Birmingham Mail website under the banner of what is now Birmingham Live. Perhaps the writing was on the wall for both papers from that moment, as they have now both folded for the last time, and will surely be missed by local readers.
Tweets from Great Barr Observer reporter Ashley Preece quietly and sadly revealed the bad news on Thursday, retweeted by Walsall Advertiser Sports Editor Michael Beardmore and followed by a tweet from Daniel Mole of Walsall F.C. on Friday. There is no mention of the closures on the Walsall section of Birmingham Live (aka the Birmingham Mail website) as yet, nor from the official Twitter feed of the Walsall Advertiser, which was active right till the end. Mr Preece has now moved over to report on the Black Country for Birmingham Live online.
None of this bodes well for the future of printed newspapers in Walsall, sadly. This development continues the desperate situation where Walsall has no locally-produced newspaper, or offices, with the Express & Star/Walsall & Willenhall Chronicle’s nearest offices being in Cannock or at their HQ in Wolverhampton.
I have been glad to know many reporters and photographers from the Walsall Advertiser over the years, and in fact in the past decade the paper published several of my own reports and photo features about local events such as Bloxwich Carnival and Walsall Town Show. I wish everyone involved in publishing both the Walsall Advertiser and the Great Barr Observer all the best in their future endeavours, wherever they may be.