Yeovil people

charles clinker

Founder of the 'Western Gazette'


Charles Clinker was born in 1835 at Alton, Hampshire, the son of William Clinker and Ann née Whiten. The 1841 census listed six-year-old Charles living with his 60-year-old grandmother Mary Clinker, of independent means, his 35-year-old aunt Mary and 11-year-old brother George. In the 1851 census Charles was living with his mother and siblings in Market Street, Alton. His 42-year-old widowed mother Ann gave her occupation as 'blacksmith employing three men' while his older brother George was also listed as a blacksmith. Charles, by now aged 16, was described as a 'pupil teacher, British school'. There were also three other younger siblings Edward aged 13, Frederick aged nine and Frank aged seven.

During the 1850s Charles married Arabella Leader of Nether Compton and in the 1861 census they were recorded as living in Bradpole, near Dorchester, Dorset. They were both aged 26 and living with them was their two-year-old son Frank and Arabella's mother Elizabeth, a former shopkeeper. Charles gave his occupation as 'reporter etc', he was actually a reporter on the Bridport News. Charles and Arabella had a daughter, Florence, born in 1861.

In 1863 Charles and Arabella moved to Yeovil and, while living in a rented cottage in Brunswick Street, Charles Clinker founded his own newspaper which he called 'The Western Gazette'. The first issue was bought out on Saturday, 21 February 1863. The main reason for Charles Clinker moving to Yeovil was the recently completed rail links which radiated across the region, thereby facilitating distribution of his newspapers. The weekly newspaper proved extremely popular causing a move to premises in Sherborne Road. Charles went into partnership with Charles Tite, and together they acquired the rival Yeovil newspaper, the century-old Western Flying Post. They combined the two papers under the heading of 'The Western Gazette and Flying Post' on 21 June 1867. In 1870 the paper moved to purpose-built offices, photographed below, on the corner of Lower Middle Street and Newton Road. In 1872 the words 'Flying Post' were dropped and the newspaper became simply 'The Western Gazette'.

Arabella died in the spring of 1869 at the age of 34 and in the spring of 1870 Charles married Sarah Elizabeth Wilson at Tiverton, Devon. In the 1871 census he was living in Peter Street with Sarah and their baby son Frank. Charles listed his occupation as 'newspaper proprietor and publisher'.

Charles Clinker and Charles Tite were both arrested on 18 May 1880 and held in Her Majesty's Prison Dorchester. They were charged with "printing and publishing, in a paper called 'the Western Gazette', a certain libel concerning the Vere Fane Bennett-Stanford, Esq, at Shaston St James, on 23 April 1880". They were tried before Mr Justice Grove on 13 July 1880 and the Order of the Court was that the "Bill for libel ignored".

By 1881 Charles was living at 22 Sherborne Road with Sarah and their family. Charles gave his occupation as newspaper proprietor and his 20-year-old son Frank was listed as the editor's assistant. As well as Frank and Florence, children by his first marriage, Charles and Sarah's children were living with them too; Arthur aged 10, Ellen aged 9, Reginald aged 7 and Hilda aged 3. They also had a cook and a housemaid. Living next door at 23 Sherborne road was his partner Charles Tite, and next door to him was glove manufacturer Herbert Southcombe. Charles' neighbour in the other direction was glove manufacturer John Luffman.

On 9 February 1886 Charles Clinker died of a heart attack in a London hotel while on a business trip. He was buried in Yeovil Cemetery (see below). He was aged just 51.




Charles Tite, left, and Charles Clinker, the joint proprietors of The Western Gazette. Photographed around 1880.


An advertisement for Clinker & Tite's "Western Gazette" in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1881.


Charles Clinker's grave in Yeovil Cemetery. Photographed in 2014.


The Western Gazette offices, photographed about 1900, on the corner of Newton Road running off to the left and Middle Street off to the right. This was before the new building was built on the opposite corner in 1906. This building still survives but is now flats.


The same building photographed in 2013.