In March 1973 — 50 years ago this month — the first community newspaper for Fitzrovia was published by a group of volunteers, known as the Whitfield Street Study Group, based at what is now the nursery on Whitfield Street.
The building was called the Whitfield Gardens Centre and the Tower community newspaper was just one of a number of activities hosted at the small community centre.
Listed on the front of the paper were the names of the first editorial group: Richard Arthur, Marilyn Cosway, Karin Jansen, Sue Newson Smith, Andrew Parlibeyi, Collin Chapman, Nancy Fowler, Chris Smith. But many other people were involved in producing the paper, including Judith Thomas who at some point took on the role of editor and producing the newspaper in her home.
That first free newspaper was a four-page tabloid printed in black and white — and contained more news than our current offering. It would go on to be published every two or three months. The last of the 57 issues was produced in December 1979.
In November 1980 it was relaunched as Fitzrovia Neighbourhood News and published from the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre, which had opened in Tottenham Street in 1975. In January 1987 its name was shortened to Fitzrovia News. During this time it was edited by neighbourhood workers Dave Ferris, Mairi Mills, Samina Dewan, and Nicola Charalambous.
After another break it was produced again in December 2004 led for the first time by a paid editor, Michael Lawler, thanks to grant funding and additional advertising. This series was published usually two or three times a year and ran until February 2007 when production was again halted after the grant funding ran out.
In the autumn of 2007 it was relaunched with new enthusiasm and printed in full colour for the first time. Led by a team of Mike Pentelow (editor), Pete Whyatt and Linus Rees, it continued to be published every three months for 13 years. Sadly, in April 2020, Pentelow died at the relatively young age of 73. The last full colour 16-page issue rolled off the presses in June 2020 filled with tributes to him.
Since September 2020 Fitzrovia News has been an online-first publication with a two-page, A4, black and white printed edition published every few months.
As a printed newspaper it is a shadow of its former self. Fitzrovia News probably reached its zenith between 2010 and 2020 with regular 16 page issues and one issue running to 24 pages. But Fitzrovia News now has a global audience since its first article appeared online in 2009, with many former residents keeping up with the news from around the UK and overseas by visiting our website or reading our twice-monthly email newsletter.
We are (still) slowly completing the 50 year digital archive of every issue. See: archive.fitzrovianews.com There is also a paper archive of Tower and Fitzrovia News which is available to view in the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.
Editor’s note: Our online digital archive is currently incomplete. We are still photographing the individual newspapers from our print archive. It’s a slow process. We hope to complete the job over the next few months.