The Llanelli Star offices on Cowell Street are set to close at the end of this month (December) in a move, which will see the newspaper without a dedicated office for the first time in its 100 year plus existence. The new editor is Kidwelly man Jonathan Roberts. He claims that the paper’s reporters will still have a physical presence in the town via clinics. Llanelli Online spoke to two former journalists with the Llanelli Star and we asked them what they thought of the news.
Ron Cant was a former journalist at the Llanelli Star, now working at the press department at Carmarthenshire County Council along with numerous other former Llanelli Star employees. He said “It is a sad day for Llanelli. I go back an awful long way with the paper. There was a Star office on Frederick Street. Harry (Scarlet) Davies and Wilf Davies were the two doyens of Llanelli News. They worked at Frederick Street and Wilf covered the Olympic Games for the press. You can imagine what an esteemed journalist he was.
“I joined in 1964 and at that time the Star was in Murray Street now the Bengal Lancer. I remember the little toilet shared by the works team. There was a sign which said £64,0000 may come your way but don’t sit here and dream all day. That was a nod to the prize on the pools, which was at that time £64,000.
“I started on around £6/3 shillings and 4 pence a week. They moved to Station Road in the 1980’s. Geoffrey Lloyd was the editor. He’d had an accident and they were putting a lift in to get him up to the second floor but he died in 1986.
“I think digital has moved the sway and National newspapers are struggling. The days of printed news are fast failing. I am a newspaper man and I enjoy the read but digital is the future. It is sad when ofices close and we have seen it with other offices like the Post Office.
“Their main source of news was good journalists. They will miss out on those popping in but they have social media. Journalists now do the rounds on social media and pick up stories. Online news is the future and your service proves that by the number of hits it gets every month. Printed news is not yet doomed but it is rapidly failing. It is a tragedy in many respects. There were three thriving papers in Llanelli, The Mercury, The Guardian and The Star. It struggled at first as a one page paper. It has flourished and it goes to show how times change. Nobody foresaw the day when papers would disappear. As one door closes another opens.”
Former Sports Editor Barrie Thomas worked for the Llanelli Star for a number of years. On hearing the news of the office closure he said: “The Llanelli Star started in Murray Street and there was a print press there. It is unbelieveable. A sad day for the town. I took a photo of the offices this morning. That was my last home. Without the Star there won’t be a presence in the town. How can you survive with that. I dont know what is going on but I dont think the paper will disappear. The Star is part of your life.
“The worrying thing is that they are based in Swansea. It is a different avenue today but people also want to read newspapers. With Llanelli Online people are kept informed of what is happening in town on a daily basis. That was sadly lacking at the Star. It was no surprise to me as very few people are looking at it. I think Llanelli Online is filling a need. The reaction of people is interesting. The fact is where are people going to go to talk to people. They won’t go to Swansea. I was sports editor for years. Is it the end of the Star? What next? I am waiting to see what develops now. The website has gone and it goes back to 1996. It is hard to find anything online. To me it was a bad move when Wales Online took over. As far as the town is concerned most people talk about The Star.”
The newspaper has brought news to the town of Llanelli for more than a century and broken the news of two World wars. Initially a single sheet publication it grew to become a familiar sight in households across Llanelli with a firm diet of news, local sport and the ever popular obituaries pages. The paper version is set to continue but there are signs of cracks appearing in local newspapers as a new generation switches to online sources for their news.