Aberdeen Journals publishes two daily newspapers, the Press and Journal and the Evening Express, and has a distribution area covering the north of Scotland.
The company can trace its roots back to Jan 1748, when James Chalmers (1713 - 1764), official printer to Aberdeen, published the city's first weekly news-sheet, The Aberdeen's Journal. His newspaper, which remained family-run until 1876, held a monopoly on newspaper sales in Aberdeen until the establishment of the Aberdeen Free Pressin 1853. The Free Press (as it came to be known) began producing a weekly news paper which matched the Journal in content, style and price, developing a solid distribution base and creating real competition in its first year of trading. In 1865 they took the bold step of increasing publication to twice-weekly, and in 1872 increased this to daily. The Journal did not have sufficient funds to begin daily publication, and in order to meet this challenge sold the paper, premises and plant to form the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company in 1876.
This was the beginning of a period of nearly fifty years of direct competition between the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company, and the Aberdeen Free Press. Both were now producing a daily morning paper, the Daily Journal and the Free Press, respectively; and from 1879 production also began on daily evening papers, the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company leading the way with their Evening Experess and the Free Press following months later with the Evening Gazette.
During the 1880s sales of the Daily Journal slumped badly, and in 1889 the Free Press offered to buy the paper from the North of Scotland Newspaper and Printing Company for a sum of 4,000. The offer was rejected and in 1890 the company was put back on an even keel by a 10,000 legacy from the will of John Gray Chalmers, great-grandson of the company's founder, James Chalmers. This permitted expansion and development of what had become a rather old-fashioned rival to the younger and more liberal Free Press. In 1894 the company purchased new premises in Broad Street, Aberdeen, and embarked upon a process of investment in new printing machinery, advertising, and the establishment of its own delivery fleet.
After the First World War both companies suffered from falling sales, and in 1919 the Free Press building on Union Street was badly damaged by fire. These circumstances prompted their amalgamation, and in November 1922 a new company called Aberdeen Newspapers Limited was formed. The new company continued to operate from the Broad Street premises, discontinuing production of the Evening Gazette, and combining the two morning papers into one - The Aberdeen Press and Journal. The new paper had no political allegiance, priding itself on giving even coverage to all parties, and established itself quickly and well. In 1928 the new company was threatened by a hostile take-over bid from Northcliffe, parent company of the Daily Mail, who wished to expand their business into Aberdeen. Unwilling to be consumed by such a large national concern, but realising that they were unlikely to survive independently for much longer, Aberdeen Newspapers looked for a more suitable partner. They approached Allied Newspapers Limited in 1928, and in September of that year an agreement was reached: Aberdeen Newspapers Limited went into voluntary liquidation, and a new company, Aberdeen Journals Limited was formed.
Allied Newspapers invested heavily in their new subsidiary, and both staff and customers benefitted - staff from increased wages and improved working conditions, and customers from a fuller coverage of national and international news. Aberdeen Journals Limited remained at Broad Street until 1970, when they moved to new premises at Lang Stracht, one of Aberdeen's new industrial estates in the west of the city.
Two books have been published on the history of Aberdeen Journals: George Fraser and Ken Peters, The Northern Lights (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1978) and Norman Harper, First Daily: a 250-year celebration of the Press and Journal, (Aberdeen: Aberdeen Journals, 1997).