295090 (2723678) Oscar William James HENDERSON, OBE, 3 Irish Guards

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by dbf, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. dbf

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    From 2010:


    27 October 2010
    News Letter Boss Captain Henderson Buried

    A former WWII Army officer who went on to become the proprietor of the Belfast News Letter was buried this afternoon. Captain Bill Henderson OBE, who personally supervised the running of what is the oldest English language newspaper in the world from its former HQ in Belfast's Donegall Street, died on Friday morning after a short illness.

    He was interred following a 1pm service in St Mark's Parish Church, Dundela in east Belfast.

    The 86-year-old was Chairman and Managing Director of Century Newspapers, which published the News Letter, and he was also a founding director of Ulster Television, where his late brother Brum was Managing Director.

    The News Letter, founded in 1737, was in the ownership of the Henderson family from 1804 to 1991.

    Capt Henderson was a hands-on proprietor who was omnipresent in the newspaper's offices and was also active in the Royal British Legion and associated ex-service bodies.

    He served in the Irish Guards during the Second World War and true to his wishes; donations in lieu of flowers at his funeral will be given to the services charity, Help for Heroes.

    Adding the Captain's full name to the many tributes being made last week, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader, Tom Elliott said: "Captain Oscar William James Henderson was an Ulster Unionist MP for Victoria, East Belfast, and a Patron of the Ulster Unionist Party and he made a huge contribution to unionism throughout Northern Ireland.

    "His achievements - his dedication and his vision helped shape the Unionism of today. Through his work in the media and his military career he promoted the best for the people of Northern Ireland and I am honoured to lead the Party he was so involved in."

    Former party boss, the East Belfast MLA, Sir Reg Empey added: "Bill was a life long member of the Ulster Unionist Party and played a vital role during his time as MP and continued to do so even when he stepped away from the frontline of politics. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him in his local Victoria Association."

    "His passion went further than politics however and he also played a positive role in Northern Ireland's media in both the Belfast Newsletter which his family owned and in UTV as a director.

    "Bill was a gentleman and an honourable man who promoted positive Unionism throughout East Belfast and across Northern Ireland. His efforts and continued support will be greatly missed," said the former UUP leader.



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    dbf Moderatrix MOD



    Maurice Neill pays tribute to Northern Ireland newspaper publisher William Henderson:

    The passing of captain Oscar William James Henderson at the age of 86 closes an important chapter in Northern Ireland's media history for 50 years ago he demonstrated the kind of commercial vision and dynamism not witnessed in the newspaper industry until the arrival of Rupert Murdoch.

    Bill saw potential in commercial television, launched Northern Ireland's first Sunday Newspaper and was among the first to invest in new printing technology. But he was repeatedly thwarted by petty rivalries in his ambition to unify the unionist Press in a single publishing house.

    A passion for business and politics and an irascible nature was matched by a warm sense of humour and a strong sense of loyalty to those who worked for him. He knew most members of staff by their first names.

    Bill was born in 1924 and raised at Hillsborough Castle, the official residence of the monarch, where his father, a navy man, was private secretary and comptroller general in the governor's household. His brother Brum recalled a happy childhood. 'We knew the King and Queen, stole wine from the Duke of Abercorn's cellar and cigarettes from my father's study."

    After Queen's University and The Irish Guards, he joined the family publishing business as a trainee manager in 1947. Here he introduced new thinking to the unionist daily The News Letter and the brothers joined a syndicate that won the first commercial television franchise for Northern Ireland in 1958. Brum became general manager of Ulster Television and Bill launched a weekly television magazine The TV Post.

    He became managing director of The News Letter in 1959 and oversaw further investment. News was introduced to the front page for the first time in 1961. It underwent changes in content after the appointment of Cowan Watson as editor in 1963 offering a more popular approach to both news and sports coverage. The culture change saw the popularity of the paper soar and it shed its elitist image.

    Bill first approached the Cunningham family at the troubled The Northern Whig with a takeover proposal in 1960, after beating them in the battle for the regional television franchise. 'I told them that the battle between us was exhausting and a waste of resources and put forward proposals for co-operation but I very quickly received a letter to say they were not interested. Pride would not let them accept.'

    The sale of The Belfast Telegraph in 1961 gave the Hendersons a second major opportunity for expansion.

    He recalled: 'When I discovered Roy Thomson had made an approach to the Baird trustees I high-tailed it to Dublin to ask the Bank of Ireland for a £2 million loan and it was agreed after a break for lunch.

    'The following evening I went to Bangor Golf club to meet one of the trustees, Samuel George. He told me 'you're too late'. I then approached the Baird family because the deal was not yet done but Cicely Baird told me: 'my father would turn in his grave if we sold the company to you.'"

    The fortunes of The News Letter inevitably improved after the closure of The Northern Whig in 1964 and circulation rose from around 70,000 to more than 100,000. The company continued to expand and modernise launching Northern Ireland's first Sunday newspaper The Sunday News in 1965. It became the first newspaper publisher in Ireland to install phototypesetting in 1972 and direct input by journalist in 1987.

    It made an offer for the Morton Group of weekly newspapers in the early 1970s but there was a last minute change of heart as the province plunged deeper into violence and political turmoil.

    Investment and expansion reached a peak in 1981 with the purchase of the scientific and technical publisher Universities Press at Castlereagh.

    However with no end in sight to The Troubles, a series of industrial relations problems and expensive legal actions in the pipeline Bill Henderson opted to sell the business in 1989. It had been in the family for 200 years. A takeover bid carefully negotiated with Thomson Regional Newspapers, owners of The Belfast Telegraph, was blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and he was forced to seek an alternative buyer finally selling to a consortium in Britain.

    The Henderson family entered politics in 1898 when James Henderson was elected Lord Mayor of Belfast. His brother Trevor received a knighthood for his role in the unionist election victory of 1921 and his grandson Bill held a seat at Stormont from 1953 until 1958. He went on to chair the executive committee of the Ulster Unionist Council and accompanied a unionist delegation to the United States of America to give evidence to the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee on terrorism and civil disruption in 1972. He was still canvassing for the Ulster Unionist party at the age of 80. He combined careers in politics and industry with charitable work on behalf of the blind and disabled. He is survived by his wife Primrose, three daughters and seven grandchildren.

    In 1934, in a funeral tribute to the proprietor of The Belfast Telegraph Sir Robert Baird, Northern Ireland's Prime Minister Viscount Craigavon summed up the unionist publishers' considerable contribution to the creation of the Northern Ireland state: 'The old oaks among us are falling fast.'

    With the passing of Bill Henderson the last oak has fallen.

    Maurice Neill is course co-ordinator for Newspaper Journalism at Belfast Metropolitan College
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


    Published Friday, 22 October 2010

    Captain OWJ (Bill) Henderson, proprietor of the News Letter for more than 30 years and a founder shareholder and director of UTV, has died aged 86.

    The Henderson family was directly associated in the ownership of the News Letter since 1804.

    Capt Henderson, an ex-Irish Guards officer in the Second World War, combined the roles of managing director and chairman of Century Newspaper from 1959 until 1991, when the paper moved into new ownership.

    The News Letter, founded in 1737, is claimed to be the oldest-existing English written daily newspaper in continuous publication in the world and, for most of two centuries, the Henderson family were the publishers.

    Capt Henderson, who is survived by his wife and three daughters, headed up operations from 1947 at the paper's Donegall Street premises in the centre of Belfast.

    In 1965, Century Newspapers, under Capt Henderson, established Sunday News, the first Sunday newspaper published in Northern Ireland.

    He also owned the newspaper titles of the Carrickfergus Advertiser and Shopping News and an extensive printing company Universities Press (Belfast) Limited.

    Capt Henderson was a member of the Ulster Unionist Party in east Belfast, and from 1953 to 1958 he was MP for the Victoria constituency in the former Stormont Parliament.

    He was a Deputy Lieutenant for the county borough and city of Belfast.

    His elder brother, the late Brum, was the UTV managing director from 1960.
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Obituary: Bill Henderson - former owner of the News Letter

    25 OCTOBER 2010

    Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 13.16.08.png Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 13.16.24.png

    Bill Henderson, who was the proprietor of the Belfast daily newspaper the News Letter for more than 30 years, has died. He was 86.

    The former Irish Guards officer’s pride and joy was his family newspaper — reputed to be the world’s oldest in the English language — with which the Hendersons had been associated with since 1804.

    When the ownership finally passed from the Henderson family, Captain Bill — as he was universally known — stepped down from his executive position with reluctance because of his dedication to the job.

    “He was a man of military bearing who always cared for his workers — particularly his journalists,” said staffer of 40 years Billy Kennedy. “He knew every member of staff by their first name and cared for their welfare.”

    Always at his desk, Captain Bill was immaculately turned out in a tailored grey suit. He had his favourite table in the Reform Club in Royal Avenue where he took lunch regularly and entertained contemporaries and visiting celebrities.

    Captain Henderson, who is survived by his wife and three daughters, was in charge of the News Letter from 1947 at its headquarters in Lower Donegall Street, where he was ever-present as deadlines approached.

    He thrived on the tension, the drama and the excitement of seeing the printing presses starting to roll.

    One of his proudest moments came in 1987 when he organised the paper’s 250th anniversary — an occasion when he regaled his friends with stories about the great moments in the News Letter’s history.

    It was his decision, in 1965, that Century Newspapers — as the family’s controlling company was known — came to launch Sunday News.

    He was also a founder, shareholder and director of Ulster Television, where his elder brother, Brum, was managing director.

    Captain Bill was a staunch unionist all his life and for five years, from 1953, he was the Unionist MP for Victoria in the old Stormont Parliament.

    He was also a Deputy Lieutenant for the County Borough and the City of Belfast.

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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019

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