1947 saw Ray Tindle freshly out of the Army with nothing more than a £300 gratuity in his pocket and a burning passion to become a newspaper owner.
Joining a paper near his home, The Croydon Times he quickly set about newspaper publishing.He worked at typesetting,make-up,printing and even physically delivered newspapers.Ray felt that he needed an intimate knowledge of all facets of publishing a newspaper if he was to ever realise his dream of owning one.
Moving on Ray earned himself prestigious senior positions at the Newspaper Society Guild Of Editors and the Newspapers Conference of London Editors.He was truly on his way up! By 1959 he moved back to the ’sharp end’ and became Managing Director of the Surrey Mirror.During his time with this firm he created new titles ,new editions and new markets.
In 1962 Ray became the managing editor of the Surrey Advertiser,owned by the Murray family and in five years built it up to a group of ten local weeklies-but he did not own them! By 1971 the group had risen to 30 titles and a total circulation of over 120,000 issues. It was whilst Ray was still at the Surrey Advertiser that he acquired the first newspaper of his own.
A nearly dead title in Tooting and Balham provided Ray with his first taste of newspaper ownership.He assiduously applied everything he had ever learnt about the business and slowly the circulation and profits improved. Ray Tindle, now fired up with success and a taste for more,succeeded in acquiring a string of titles over the years that followed. The newspapers were mainly small operations with their hearts and souls firmly entrenched in the communities they served.
A hallmark of Ray’s ownership was that he kept it that way. In most cases existing staff were kept encouraged to add their own stamp of individuality and their energy to the papers character.
No big shake ups and mass redundancies in Ray Tindle’s burgeoning empire. Ray Tindle’s newspaper empire spread from the Home Counties into Wales and the West Country.All along the way he acquired seasoned professionals who knew the business of satisfying local communities and the businesses that served them. Biggin Hill News Ltd started in 1966 by the late Gilbert Smith grew from being produced on a kitchen table to the five titles that today reach over 200,000 readers.
Ray Tindle acquired the group in 1983 and made a number of innovative changes including changing from fortnightly to weekly publication and founding the County News,which quickly expanded to three separate editions.