Amalgamated Press

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Amalgamated Press
PredecessorHarmsworth Brothers Ltd
FounderAlfred Harmsworth
SuccessorInternational Publishing Company (IPC)
Country of originEngland
Headquarters locationFleetway House (from 1912)
Key peopleHarold Harmsworth, William Berry, Seymour Berry
Editors: Reg Eves, John Alexander Hammerton, Leonard Matthews, Charles Ray, Henry Beckles Willson
Writers: Herbert Allingham, Edwy Searles Brooks, Henry St. John Cooper, Charles Hamilton, Arthur Mee, Frank S. Pepper, Hugo Tyerman
artists: Freddie Adkins, Alex Akerbladh, John Jukes, Frank Minnitt
Publication typesnewspapers, story papers, comics, magazines, paperbacks
ImprintsThe Educational Book Company
Owner(s)Alfred Harmsworth (1890–1922)
Allied Newspapers (1926–1937)
William Berry (1937–1959)
IPC (1959)

The Amalgamated Press (AP) was a British newspaper and magazine publishing company founded by journalist and entrepreneur Alfred Harmsworth (1865–1922) in 1901, gathering his many publishing ventures together under one banner.[1] At one point the largest publishing company in the world,[2] AP employed writers such as Arthur Mee, John Alexander Hammerton, Edwy Searles Brooks, and Charles Hamilton. Its subsidiary, the Educational Book Company, published The Harmsworth Self-Educator, The Children's Encyclopædia, and Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia. The company's newspapers included the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, The Evening News, The Observer, and The Times. At its height, AP published over 70 magazines and operated three large printing works and paper mills in South London.[3]


Harmsworth Brothers Ltd[edit]

In 1888 Alfred Harmsworth and his younger brother Harold (1868–1940) started Harmsworth Brothers, with Alfred acting as publisher and Harold handling the finances.[3] The first thing they did was found a paper called Answers to Correspondents, which was modeled after another popular paper called Tit-Bits (published by George Newnes). Harmsworth entered the comic magazine market in 1890 with Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips;[1] The comic Wonder, launched in 1892, was part of a long string of connected titles which stretched from 1892 to 1953, known by a variety of additional names, including Funny Wonder and Jester.

Also in 1890, Harmsworth began publishing periodicals to challenge and compete with the penny dreadfuls popular among British youth. Priced at one half-penny, Harmsworth's story papers were cheaper and, at least initially, were more respectable than the competition. Harmsworth claimed to be motivated by a wish to challenge the pernicious influence of penny dreadfuls. AP's Halfpenny Marvel, launched in 1893, was soon followed by a number of other Harmsworth half-penny periodicals, such as The Union Jack (1894–1933) and Pluck (also started in 1894), and the serialized boys' story papers The Boys' Friend (1895). At first the stories were high-minded moral tales, reportedly based on true experiences, but it was not long before these papers started using the same kind of material as the publications they competed against.[4]

Beginning in 1894, the Harmsworth brothers dove into the newspaper business, first acquiring The Evening News and the Edinburgh Daily Record. Harmsworth founded the Daily Mail in 1896, which was a success, having the world record for daily circulation until Harmsworth's death.

Harmsworth founded the woman's magazine Home Chat (1895–1959) to compete with C. Arthur Pearson's Home Notes.

In 1896, Harmsworth Brothers Ltd was incorporated as a limited company.[3] By this time, combined weekly sales of the company's publications exceeded one million copies, more than any other magazine publisher in the world.[3]

Formation and expansion of Amalgamated Press[edit]

In 1901, Harmsworth gathered his many publishing ventures together under the banner of Amalgamated Press.[3]

In 1902, the company opened offices in Manchester, also setting up a system of codes and telegraphs that streamlined the layout and printing process.[3]

Expanding his newspaper empire, Harmsworth initiated the Daily Mirror during 1903, and rescued the financially desperate The Observer and The Times during 1905 and 1908, respectively.[5] During 1908, he also acquired The Sunday Times.

The quality of the AP story papers began to improve throughout the early 20th century. They also proliferated, with AP launching new boys' papers like The Gem (1907–1939) and The Magnet (1908–1940). By the time of the First World War, papers such as Union Jack dominated the market in the UK.[a] Post-World War I story papers launched by AP included The Champion (1922–1955) and The Thriller (1929–1937).

Recognizing the popularity of the story papers with girls, AP editor Reg Eves launched a girl's line, the most notable being School Friend (1919–1929), Schoolgirls' Own (1921–1936), and The Schoolgirl (1922–1923; 1929–1940).

AP's My Magazine was published from 1908 to 1933 with different names; it had articles on science, technology, geography, and current events.

From 1912 Amalgamated Press was based at Fleetway House in Farringdon Street, London.[6]

Amalgamated Press acquired the assets of James Henderson & Sons Ltd in 1920.[7]

AP story papers faced tougher competition in the 1930s with the rise of DC Thomson's line, including The Hotspur (launched in 1933).[8]

Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips continued strongly into the 20th century; other notable pre-War humorous comics titles published by AP included Film Fun (launched in 1920), Radio Fun (1938), and Knockout (1939).

Harmsworth's death; Allied Newspapers; William Berry[edit]

Alfred Harmsworth died in 1922, and in 1926 Amalgamated Press was bought by William and Gomer Berry of Allied Newspapers.[3][9] Shortly after this sale, in 1927, AP acquired and continued publishing a number of Cassell & Co.'s periodicals, including Cassell's Magazine, The Story-Teller, and Chums.

The Berry brothers dissolved their partnership in 1937, with William Berry (Lord Camrose) retaining Amalgamated Press.[3]

Editor Leonard Matthews (1914–1997), who joined AP in 1939, was a leading figure in the company's comics titles for 20 years, eventually becoming Manager Editor.

The onset of World War II, in the years 1940–1942, brought the merger and cancellation of a number of long-running AP comics titles, including Butterfly and Puck (both launched in 1904), Jester (launched in 1912), Tiger Tim's Weekly (1919), Sunbeam (1922), The Joker (1927), Larks (1927), Bubbles (1921), Chicks' Own (1929), and Funny Wonder series 3 (dating back to 1914).

Seymour Berry, 2nd Viscount Camrose, the eldest son of William Berry, was Vice Chairman of Amalgamated Press from 1942 until the company's sale in 1959.

In May 1949, AP acquired the publisher J. B. Allen, including their comics titles The Comet[10] and Sun, which they continued under the same names. AP launched a number of notable comics in the 1950s, including School Friend (launched in 1950; considered the first girls' comic), Lion (1952), Tiger (1954), and the young children's comics Jack and Jill and Playhour (both 1954).

Another round of mergers and cancellations of long-running AP comics titles occurred in the years 1952–1957, including Illustrated Chips and Comic Cuts (both launched in 1890), Jingles (launched in 1934), Tip Top (launched in 1934), Playbox (launched in 1925), The Rainbow (launched in 1914), and Tiny Tots (launched in 1920).

Acquisition by the Mirror Group/IPC[edit]

In 1959, Amalgamated Press was bought by the Mirror Group and renamed Fleetway Publications (after the name of AP's headquarters, Fleetway House).[11] AP titles that were continued by IPC/Fleetway included:

  • Confessions Library (1959 series)
  • Cowboy Picture Library (1950 series; originally known as Cowboy Comics)
  • Famous Romance Library (1956 series)
  • Film Fun (1920 series)
  • Girls' Crystal (1935 series)
  • Knockout (1939 series)
  • Lion (1952 series)
  • Marilyn (1955 series)
  • Playhour (1954 series)
  • Radio Fun (1938 series)
  • Roxy (1958 series)
  • School Friend (1950 series)
  • Super Detective Library (1953 series)
  • Thriller Comics (1951 series)
  • Tiger (1954 series)
  • Top Spot (1958 series)
  • TV Fun (1953 series)
  • Valentine (1957 series)

With the transition to Fleetway, the AP titles The Comet, Sun, and Tiny Tots were all merged into other AP titles: Tiger, Lion, and Playhour, respectively. Radio Fun was continued by Fleetway for a short time and then merged into Buster in 1960. Similarly, TV Fun was renamed TV Fan, continued for a short time, and then was merged into Valentine.

In 1961, the Mirror Group also acquired Odhams Press (which by that point owned Longacre Press and Newnes/Pearson). The group was renamed the International Publishing Corporation in 1963,[12] although the component companies continued to use their own names until 1968 when they were reorganised into the unitary IPC Magazines. The "Fleetway" banner continued to be used for some publications until IPC's comics line was sold under the name Fleetway Publications to Robert Maxwell in 1987.[1]

Of the comics titles IPC acquired from Amalgamated Press, only five survived into the 1970s: Jack and Jill, Lion, Playhour, Tiger, and Valentine; of those five, Jack and Jill, Playhour, and Tiger survived until the mid-1980s.

Rebellion Developments currently owns all comics characters and titles created by IPC's subsidiaries after 1 January 1970, together with 26 specified characters which appeared in Buster;[13][14] while IPC currently retains its other comics characters and titles, including Sexton Blake, The Steel Claw, and Battler Britton.[15]



  • The Boy's Book of Everyday Science (1937), edited by Charles Ray
  • The Concise Household Encyclopedia (1932–1939) edited by J A Hammerton.
  • Everybody's Enquire Within, edited by Charles Ray, published in 55 weekly instalments from 1937 to 1938.
  • The Great War: The Standard History of the All-Europe Conflict (1914-1919), edited by Wilson and Hammerton
  • Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia (1921/1922)
  • "Wonders" — all edited by Clarence Winchester, and published by Amalgamated Press as weekly instalments, with a book binding service available to keep as two volumes for each series.[16][17]
    • Railway Wonders of the World, 50 installments (1935–36)[18]
    • Shipping Wonders of the World, 55 installments (1936–37)[19]
    • Wonders of World Engineering, 53 installments (1937–38)[20]
    • Wonders of World Aviation, 40 installments (1938)[21]
  • The World of Wonder: 10,000 Things Every Child Should Know (1933), edited by Charles Ray. Published in two volumes: Vol. One, pages 1 to 732; Vol. Two, pages 733 to 1460. An illustrated compendium of mainly science and technology, with some historical subjects.


Story papers[edit]

Notable comics titles[edit]

Title Starting year Ending year Issues Merged with Notes
Bo-Peep and Little Boy Blue 1929 1934 245 Chicks' Own
Bubbles 1921 1941 1,024 Chicks' Own
Butterfly 1904 1940 1,862 Tip Top Title is Butterfly and Firefly for 446 issues from 1917 to 1925
Chicks' Own 1920 1957 1,605 Also published 33 annuals from 1924 to 1957
The Comet 1949 1959 510 Tiger Launched by J. B. Allen in 1946; acquired by AP in 1949
Comic Cuts 1890 1953 3,006 Knockout
Comic Home Journal 1895 1904 488
Crackers 1929 1941 615 Jingles
Famous Romance Library 1956 1961 171
Film Fun 1920 1962 2,222 Buster Published 23 annuals from 1938 to 1961
Funny Wonder 1st series 1893 1899 325 Leads right into Funny Wonder 2nd series
Funny Wonder 2nd series 1899 1901 109 Numbering continues with Wonder series 2
Funny Wonder 3rd series 1914 1942 1,404 Wonder series 4 Numbering continues from Halfpenny Wonder (1914 series); numbering continues with Wonder series 4; also published 5 annuals from 1937 to 1942
Girls' Crystal 1953 1963 524 School Friend Numbering continues from Girls' Crystal story paper (launched in 1935); published 39 annuals from 1939 to 1978
Illustrated Chips initial run 1890 1890 6
Illustrated Chips main series 1890 1952 2,997 Film Fun
Jack and Jill 1954 1985 1,640 (c.)
Jester and Wonder 1902 1912 506 Jester Numbering continues from Wonder series 2
Jester 1912 1940 1,312 Funny Wonder Title is Jolly Jester from 1920 to 1924
Jingles 1934 1954 741 TV Fun
The Joker 1927 1940 655 Illustrated Chips
Kinema Comic 1920 1932 651 Film Fun
Knockout 1939 1963 1,240 Valiant Published 16 "Fun Books" from 1941 to 1955, and 6 annuals from 1956 to 1961
Larks 1927 1940 656 Comic Cuts
Lion 1952 1974 1,156 Valiant Published 767 issues with IPC
Marilyn 1955 1965 549 Valentine
Merry and Bright the Favorite Comic 1910 1935 1,265 Butterfly Titled simply Merry and Bright for 337 issues from 1910 to 31 March 1917
My Favourite 1928 1934 351 Sparkler
Playbox 1st series 1898 1898 2
Playbox 2nd series 1905 1913 105 Published 48 annuals from 1909 to 1956
Playbox 3rd series 1925 1955 1,279 Jack and Jill
Playhour 1954 1987 1,700 (c.) Originally titled Playhour Pictures
Playtime 1919 1929 550
Puck 1904 1940 1,867 Sunbeam
Radio Fun 1938 1960 1,029 Buster Published 21 annuals from 1940 to 1960
The Rainbow 1914 1956 1,898 Tiny Tots Published 10 annuals from 1927 onward
Roxy 1958 1963 288 Valentine
School Friend 1950 1965 762 June
Sun 1949 1959 517 Lion Launched by J. B. Allen in 1947; acquired by AP in 1949; was called Sun Comic for 122 issues from 1949 to March 22, 1952
Sunbeam 1922 1940 920 Tiny Tots
Thriller Comics 1951 1963 450
Tiger 1954 1985 1,571 (c.) Eagle Published c. 1,310 issues with IPC
Tiger Tim's Weekly 1919 1940 1,087 Rainbow Originally called Tiger Tim's Tales for 28 issues (1919–1920)
Tiny Tots 1927 1959 1,334 Playhour
Tip Top 1934 1954 727 TV Fun
TV Fun 1953 1960 333 Valentine Becomes TV Fan from 19 September 1959 to 30 January 1960; published 4 annuals from 1957 to 1960
Valentine 1957 1974 919 Mirabelle
Wonder 1st series 1892 1893 27 Restarted as Funny Wonder (1892–1899)
Wonder 2nd series 1901 1902 49 Jester and Wonder Called Wonder and Jester for 2 issues, 10 May 1902 to 17 May 1902; numbering continues in Jester and Wonder
Wonder 3rd series 1913 1914 64 Halfpenny Wonder Numbering continued from Penny Wonder; numbering continued in Halfpenny Wonder (which becomes Funny Wonder 3rd series)
Wonder 4th series 1942 1953 317 Numbering continues from Funny Wonder series 3


  1. ^ Editorials in early issues of papers such as the Union Jack or The Boys' Friend make frequent references to "the blood and thunders", but as time went on the mentions disappeared. Letters sent in by parents or teachers were frequently printed, praising the papers for putting the "trash" out of business.


  1. ^ a b c AP/Fleetway: A Potted History, Kerschner & Taylor, retrieved 8 January 2012
  2. ^ Boyce, D. George (2004). Harmsworth, Alfred Charles William, Viscount Northcliffe (1865–1922). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Amalgamated Press," Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved Apr. 19, 2021.
  4. ^ Knuth, Rebecca (2012). Children's Literature and British Identity: Imagining a People and a Nation. Scarecrow Press. p. 65.
  5. ^ "Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, Viscount Northcliffe | British publisher". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  6. ^ W. O. G. Lofts, "Fleetway House is no more," C.D. #375 (March 1978). Archived at the Friardale website.
  7. ^ "James Henderson and Sons", Graces Guide. Retrieved 22 November 2020
  8. ^ Jeffrey Richards, Happiest Days: The Public Schools in English Fiction, Manchester University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-7190-1879-X, p. 289.
  9. ^ Herbert Allingham biography, website; accessed 2013-09-16.
  10. ^ Clark, Alan. Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors (The British Library, 1998), pp. 2-3.
  11. ^ "Fleetway – A History". Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  12. ^ Press Office – IPC History, IPC Media, archived from the original on 13 August 2010, retrieved 28 June 2010
  13. ^ Bunge, Nicole. "REBELLION ACQUIRES FLEETWAY AND IPC YOUTH GROUP ARCHIVES". ICv2. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  14. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Rebellion Buys Fleetway Archive – Roy Of The Rovers, Oink, Tammy, Battle, Whizzer And Chips And More". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  15. ^ Birmingham Mail article Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Clarke, John (2016). "Other Part Works Edited by Clarence Winchester". Railway Wonders of the World. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Resources for Winchester, Clarence (1892-)". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  18. ^ Railway Wonders of the World tribute website. Retrieved Apr. 15, 2021.
  19. ^ Shipping Wonders of the World tribute website. Retrieved Apr. 15, 2021.
  20. ^ Wonders of World Engineering tribute website. Retrieved Apr. 15, 2021.
  21. ^ Wonders of World Aviation tribute website. Retrieved Apr. 15, 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Yellow Magazine, The," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (APRIL 10, 2015).
  23. ^ "The Boys' Realm," Comic Book+. Retrieved Apr. 15, 2021.

External links[edit]