Samuel Peacock took a step into the unknown on Saturday, January 24, 1863 when he published the first issue of the ‘Watford Observer, and General Advertiser for Watford, Bushey and Rickmansworth’. Would his belief that the locality needed and could support its own newspaper be vindicated? The answer was to an unequivocal yes and today we celebrate that 160th anniversary.

That first edition was only four pages – three of which were printed in London – and it featured this mission statement: “…to all classes of readers we state our design is to make ‘The Observer’ a paper for the people. It will ever by our aim to represent the wants of the masses, and at the same time to give such information and advice as we trust shall be the welfare and good of all classes of society.”

Peacock could never have envisioned those first four pages growing into a multimedia print and online publication, but if he were still around today it is fair to assume he would be feeling proud that his brainchild is still going strong 160 years later.

Watford Observer: The first four-page issue was published on January 24, 1863The first four-page issue was published on January 24, 1863 (Image: Watford Observer / Watford Museum)

We will be reflecting on the Watford Observer’s history throughout this week, and a special supplement will be published with Friday’s newspaper to mark this milestone.