In July 1860, when a Williton printer, Samuel Cox,
launched the West Somerset Free Press, the district
was about to experience rapid and exciting change.
Progress was in the air and since this first edition,
the Free Press has, decade by decade, faithfully
reported the characters and events that have
shaped the district.
West Somerset in the News for
the first time brings these stories together, with
authentic extracts and illustrations from the pages
of the Free Press, giving fresh insight and detail to
well-known stories, and uncovering fascinating
new stories which have long been forgotten.
West Somerset in the News reports on the big
developments of the time, the arrival of the
railways in Victorian times, the natural disasters
at Watchet and Lynmouth, the battles both to
develop and to preserve Exmoor, the hopes and
fears for the nuclear plants at Hinkley.
It also reveals fresh details about:
• how Mrs Pankhurst and her ‘Votes for Women’
Suffragettes swept into West Somerset in 1911
• the great hopes for the West Somerset Oilfield
in the 1920s
• when the world waited to see how West
Somerset would vote on the best way to
• the Free Press
‘exclusive’, the Norman Scott case, which led to
the former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe
appearing in court in Minehead, charged with
conspiracy to murder.
With more than 200 fascinating and evocative
illustrations West Somerset In The News re-discovers
great stories long forgotten, the madcap and the
solemn, the intriguing and the frivolous, to paint a
vivid portrait of life over a century and a half.
Jeff Cox is the great-great grandson of
the printer Samuel Cox, who launched
the Free Press in 1860, and the son of
Norman Cox, the last of the family to
edit the paper. Jeff has been a journalist
all his life, working in Williton on the
Free Press in the late 1970s, before
moving to the BBC in London. He
now specialises in the coverage of
foreign news for the BBC’s television
and radio news bulletins.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 1 906551 09 4, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published May 2010.