Historic Bega Standard enters digital age

Bega Standard offices in Carp St, Bega, about 1899. This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW. At Work and Play – 02227

Bega Standard offices in Carp St, Bega, about 1899. This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW. At Work and Play – 02227

PRECURSOR to the Bega District News, the Bega Standard, is now searchable online for the years from 1876 to 1884 through the National Library of Australia’s Trove discovery tool.

The Bega Valley Shire Library has partnered with the National Library of Australia over the last two years to digitise many local historical newspapers.

“Newspapers are valuable primary research sources and give us wonderful insights into our heritage,” Bega Valley Shire’s local and family history librarian Linda Albertson said.

“We digitised the Bega Budget, Bega Gazette, Cobargo Chronicle and some early Twofold Bay newspapers last year and now with the Bega Standard, our online resources are adding up to a significant resource.

“Anyone can search Australian online historical newspapers from the comfort of their own home through Trove and if you aren’t sure how to get started then library staff can help you,” Ms Albertson said.

Beginning life in 1868 as the Southern Standard, the newspaper, sponsored by Robert William Sharpe, began operating in opposition to the established Bega newspaper of the time, the Bega Gazette.

In 1872, Mr P Quinlivan bought the Southern Standard in its fourth change in ownership since its establishment four years earlier.

In 1873, Fred Berne bought the newspaper from Mr Quinlivan.

In 1870, Laurence John O’Toole arrived in Bega from Wollongong to work for Fred Berne at the Southern Standard.  He had previously worked as a journalist for the Illawarra Mercury.

After Berne’s accidental death by drowning in 1874, William Neilley bought the newspaper and O’Toole joined Neilley as a partner a few months later when they changed the name to the Bega Standard.

At that time, the newspaper boasted a circulation of 400 copies.

O’Toole left the Bega Standard in 1875 and went to Sydney working for the Sydney Evening News.

He was sent back to the South Coast to report on the recently discovered gold fields near Bermagui – the Montreal fields. 

In the 1870s the Bega Standard was published once a week, every Saturday morning.

By the end of 1882 publication had increased to twice a week with a Wednesday and Saturday edition.

A quarterly subscription to the paper cost four shillings and sixpence.

Walter Archibald Smith joined the Bega Standard as an apprentice aged 14 in 1888.

In the late 1890s, ownership of the newspaper changed to William Duff, then in 1901, the Bega Standard was bought by Harry Jardine.

The Bega Gazette was struggling so Smith bought it out with PW Tarlinton and they changed its name to the Southern Star.

After a few years Smith bought Tarlinton out and gained sole ownership.

In 1923, Smith and Jardine worked together to buy out the Bega Budget and then successfully amalgamated their newspapers (Southern Star and Bega Standard) to form the Bega District News.

The Bega Standard’s offices were originally located in Auckland St, Bega and later moved to premises built by Harry Jardine on Carp St. 


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