A snapshot of the history of The Border Mail, as written by senior journalist Howard Jones:
"It will be tied to no political party, to no political clique, to no political candidate." And so The Border Morning Mail's first editor, Mr Hamilton Charnock Mott, started his first editorial on October 24, 1903. The first issue of The Border Mail was on October 24, 1903. It was published by Hamilton and Decimus Mott and there were probably about 400 copies printed, the price of which was one penny. It promised its first readers that it would be strictly independent.
From 1903, The Border Mail has informed a widespread community. Not only has The Border Mail informed, it also has contributed to the financial well-being and growth of this great region. Regular investment into the community by way of capital expenditure, paid salaries, general expense and sponsorships add up to over $12 million annually.
The Border has had a long newspaper history, going back to 1856 when Mr George Mott started The Border Post. George was the father of Hamilton and his brother Decimus who started The Border Morning Mail. The Post would finish in 1902, but there was plenty of stiff competition - the weekly Albury Banner and an evening paper, the Albury Daily News. Along the way would come the Wodonga Sentinel to cover the southern side of the Murray. Mr Mott declared that he and his brother Decimus had started the paper without intending rivalry or hostility towards the Albury Banner and the Daily News. One was a weekly, the other an evening paper but the Border Morning Mail filled a gap as a true daily newspaper, he wrote. "To compare an evening paper with a morning one is like comparing an airship to a submarine torpedo-boat. One moves in the air and the other under the ocean. One is taken with chocolate and rolls at breakfast and the other after the day's work is over." In fact, the Mail and the Daily News were rivals until Mr Mott bought and closed down the News in 1924 but generously engaged its last editor Bill Mangan.
While promoting independence, Mr Mott never intended to be impartial - in fact, he was a leader of public opinion, not always on the popular side. "Whatever affects the destinies of, the progress of and the prosperity of, this vast district, we intend never to lose sight of," he wrote. Mr Mott appealed to readers to help bring matters to public notice but issued a warning: "To the self-seeker, the agitator, the stirrer-up of petty strife, the stabber in the back, the snake in the grass, the author of lying rumors and the venter of private spite, we shall turn a deaf ear." These were the principles he laid down and followed for 60 years and instilled in his children who inherited the business.
The Border Mail was very much a family affair in the 1930s. Tennyson Mott left school at 16 in 1922 and worked at the Mail initially as a linotype operator before switching to journalism. He joined the Sydney Sun in 1928, returning to Albury four years later.
Clif Mott joined the paper in 1924 as a messenger boy and sweeper-up. In 1927 he started as a reporter, graduating to sub-editor and later editor. His sister Haidee also became a reporter while Tennyson and Melbourne - who started as a nighttime printer in 1932 - concentrated more on the technical side.
Among the non-family journalists who worked on the paper in the inter-war years was the former editor of the Albury Daily News, Bill Mangan, and Keith Welsh (1925-33). Mr Welsh recalled in 1989 working as part of a happy family in which everyone, whether editorial, advertising, printing or engineering staff, knew each other. When war came in 1939, the three Mott brothers left to serve their country.
Some of our advertisers have been with us from the first issue of The Border Morning Mail on October 24, 1903. In 2001, a Saturday edition of The Border Mail was one of almost 36,000 to be printed out of the paper's print headquarters in Wodonga, with upwards of 80,000 people spending time to read the paper. Early editions were no more than eight pages - now, a Saturday edition could be upwards of 120 pages.
Originally the paper started production in Dean St opposite what is now the Country Comfort. Its next two moves were both in Dean St - to a site near what was the Commonwealth Bank and then into an area that has become the Albion Hotel.