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British Industrial History

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James Gomer Berry

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(James) Gomer Berry, first Viscount Kemsley (1883–1968), newspaper proprietor

1883 born at Merthyr Tudful, the youngest of the three sons of John Mathias Berry, an estate agent and Liberal alderman, and his wife, Mary Ann.

c.1897 Berry followed in the footsteps of his brother, William Ewert Berry, leaving school at fourteen to work on the Merthyr Tydfil Times.

Gomer joined his brother William's Advertising World magazine in London, promoting sales and selling advertising space.

1905 William and Gomer Berry sold the magazine at an excellent profit. They bought a publishing house and started sundry periodicals

1907 Gomer Berry married Mary Lilian Holmers; they had one daughter and six sons.

For well over three decades the 2 Berry brothers pursued the common strategy of moving from specialist magazines back into the familiar world of the provincial press.

1915 Acquired the struggling Sunday Times and swiftly restored its fortunes.

Post WWI their company invested in the fledgling film industry as well as in more reliable revenue earners such as Kelly's directories.

1919 Purchased the St Clement's Press including the Financial Times.

1924 Established Allied Newspapers with Sir E. M. Iliffe.

1926 Acquired the Amalgamated Press from the executors of Lord Northcliffe.

1927 the Berry–Iliffe group purchased the Daily Telegraph.

1928 Conferred baronetcy

1931 Married his second wife, Edith.

1936 Advanced to the peerage as Lord Kemsley. All 3 Berry brothers had attained peerages, probably a record for a non-aristocratic family from an unfashionable industrial town.

1937 The Allied Newspapers partnership was amicably dissolved. Each partner needed a distinct raft of holdings to pass on to his heirs; Lord Camrose assumed sole control of the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, and Amalgamated Press; Gomer became proprietor of the Sunday Times.

After 1937 Kemsley stepped out of his brother's shadow, becoming chairman of Allied Newspapers, renamed Kemsley Newspapers six years later. In Fleet Street Kemsley owned the downmarket Daily Sketch, and also the Sunday Graphic. However, the jewel in the crown, and the newspaper he remains most closely associated with, was the Sunday Times.

c.1959 Sold his portfolio of papers to Roy Thompson[1]

1968 Died in Monte Carlo

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Aug 27, 1959