When The Examiner celebrated its 50th birthday in 1892 Australia was in the grip of a depression with many businesses and financial institutions collapsing.
Mining helped cushion the effects of the depression to some extent in Northern Tasmania and The Examiner chose to focus on the growth of Launceston in a Special Supplement celebrating its golden anniversary.
Published on Saturday, March 12, 1892 – exactly 50 years after its first edition appeared – the Special Supplement also reflected on the great changes in the production of the newspaper.
In 1842 the number of Examiner employees was just 12, but by 1892 the staff had grown to nearly 100.
According to the Supplement, its printery was “as complete as any in the Southern Hemisphere”.
This, it said, had been confirmed by the fact it had won eight gold medals and three honourable mentions at the Tasmanian Exhibition held in the newly-completed Albert Hall.
The Examiner, owned by Henry Button whose family had been involved in founding the newspaper, also had a wholesale and retail stationery division.
In 1892 there was a staff of 17 compositors in the printing area who assembled the pages by hand, placing brass letters and spaces side-by-side to make lines of type.
There was a staff of about ten in the editorial department and there had been a dramatic change in news gathering since 1842 with the telegraph and submarine cables.
Stories from interstate and overseas arrived at The Examiner at the same time as newsrooms on the mainland.
And a lot had changed in Launceston since the newspaper had first appeared when Tasmania was still called Van Diemen’s Land and British convicts were still arriving in great numbers.
“The life of the town’s people in 1842 was the hard rugged existence of pioneers,” the Supplement said.
Launceston had just 5000 inhabitants then, but by 1892 its population had grown to 23,000 residents and three of Tasmania’s largest country towns – Campbell Town, Longford and Westbury – were in its circulation area.
Launceston, it said, enjoyed “every modern luxury and refinement” with nearly every house having water and gas and telephonic communication available to those who wanted it.
With rural industries and mining Launceston had become the commercial capital of Tasmania and despite the depression the wharves lining both sides of the North Esk River were the busiest in the colony.
The Examiner’s 50th anniversary Supplement said the history of the newspaper was “to a great extent” the history of the colony of Tasmania.