William Barclay died aged 82 in 1951. He spent 65 years on the staff of the Banffshire Journal, most of them as editor. In fact the Banffie had only two editors in a hundred years. In 1941 the University of Aberdeen gave him an honorary LLD. With no disrespect to modern journalists, that would not happen to the editor of a local paper nowadays.
Every good local weekly paper had high ambitions to be a proper newspaper. So the Banffie had the national news, with reports of parliamentary debates, a court circular, details of wars around the world, reviews of the latest books by the best authors, as well as news of every parish-pump for miles around, and all the fat-stock sales, and the meetings of the presbytery. In those days journalists did shorthand, and you can find parish council meetings verbatim. Getting all this in was achieved by using the smallest typeface available. You got your money’s worth, and not just in quantity. There were serious editorials. The Banffshire Journal was doing its best to be on a par with the Manchester Guardian.
Dr Barclay wrote books. He was a fund of knowledge about local history, and indeed geography. The best-known was The Schools and Schoolmasters of Banffshire, with a preface by the Principal of Aberdeen University, a wonderful book with a fund of stories.
The Banffshire Journal office was also a printing press, and you find lots of material of local interest printed there. There is a plaque on the building to remind us that this was where the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society had their first offices, under the auspices of the Journal. The picture shows how many staff there were in Dr Barclay’s day.