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“Fifty not out! It’s a fair score; but we are out to chalk up a century”.
So wrote Pakenham Gazette proprietor Herb Thomas in the edition of 5 May 1967, marking the newspaper’s 50th anniversary.
Well, four generations of the Thomas family can now raise their bats – having notched that century on 11 May, 2017.
The region’s premier newspaper celebrates the occasion with a special 100th anniversary edition this week, which includes a replica copy of that very first Gazette of 11 May 1917.
The business was founded by Albert Edward Thomas in Berwick in 1909 and the worth of the Berwick Shire News and Pakenham and Cranbourne Gazette newspaper became widely known, prompting a group of Pakenham businesspeople to persuade Albert to move his business there in 1917.
The masthead turned around to the Pakenham Gazette and Berwick Shire News, produced out of an old wooden building in Main Street, Pakenham.
By this stage, Herb was firmly entrenched in the family business and had unknowingly embarked upon a long and dedicated service to the Pakenham community.
In May 1919 the family bought a prime half acre block between the shire hall and the Presbyterian Church, on which a home was built by 1922 and a new office fronting Main Street in 1935 (which sold only recently).
Albert died in 1948 and for a short time his wife Elizabeth published the newspaper. Herb noted in that 50th anniversary editorial that his mother “had always been an inspiration to her husband in his work, and played an important part in establishing the newspaper at a time when Pakenham was a very much smaller township.”
Herb became principal of the business the following year. His son Ian joined him in 1951, attending the Melbourne College of Printing in Latrobe Street to learn to operate the linotype machine.
He acquired every skill needed in the industry and, like other family members, could turn his hand to journalism and photography, as well as production requirements.
Ian and his wife Dorothy became the third generation of the Thomas family to head up the business when Herb died suddenly on 13 July 1979.
Dorothy came into the business to initially support Ian, who suddenly found himself confronted by an enormous task and responsibility. She was well set for a career in education and brought these skills to the role of editor, which she held for 19 years before retiring in 1997.
Ian led the company into full computerisation, continued the family tradition of contributing to community affairs and grew the company significantly during his time as proprietor and managing director.
By 1984 the business was bulging out of the Main Street office, and expanded into the recently vacated former council offices next door and simultaneously set up a satellite office in Berwick.
In November 1987, the company made the significant step of launching its first free paper, the Berwick City News, to service the then City of Berwick. Cranbourne News was to follow in the wake of council amalgamations in 1995 and Pakenham-Officer news in 2003.
Ian and Dorothy’s son Paul joined the company in July 1992 and was instrumental in developing the company’s third newspaper, the South Eastern Real Estate News.
When Ian retired in 1999 he handed the reins to his son Paul, who has taken the company to another level again.
Paul has overseen another incredible period of growth for what is now a multi-platform media company, with its footprint spreading up the east coast of Australia as far as Noosa.
The Gazette is now provided on three platforms – epaper, online and in print.
“We update our online news as soon as it happens with an online first news reporting philosophy so that our readers and our community get their facts promptly,” Paul says in the centenary edition.
“We are proud of our history and the difference we have been able to make to this community, and with your continued support we hope we can continue this for many years to come.”

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