THE St Albans Observer was first launched as a broadsheet free paper in
June 1985, saying to readers: "Tell us and we'll tell St Albans". The first front page is pictured right.
The newspaper, sister paper of The Watford Observer, started with city centre offices in Adelaide Street in the early days of the M25 and when the Maltings shopping centre was still being built.
The St Albans Observer follows a long tradition of quality local papers - The Watford Observer was first published on January 15, 1863, by Samuel Alexander Peacock, son of Watford printer and
bookbinder John Peacock, one of the founders of the town's printing industry in the early 19th Century.
Coming into the more recent 20th Century, the St Albans Observer and The Watford Observer were among the first regional newspapers to introduce direct input. Reporters keyed copy into computers
rather than typing it out and then handing it to copytakers to rekey.
More progress was made in 1994 when computer setting was introduced, allowing sub editors to create the news pages directly on computer screens.
During its life, the St Albans Observer turned tabloid,
as pictured left, and then was relaunched as a paid-for broadsheet, in September 1998. The first new-look broadsheet front page appears below. It then reverted back to tabloid format in 2001. There
are two editions, the St Albans Observer and Harpenden's own newspaper, the Harpenden Observer.
The St Albans Observer offices moved from Porters Wood in St Albans in 2006, to join its sister title the Watford Observer in Watford Business Park.
Limited Edition, an upmarket community lifestyle magazine, joined the portfolio of titles in May 1995, and there are now three editions produced.
The first owner of the St Albans Observer was the Westminster Press division of Pearson, which owned the Financial Times.
In 1996, Westminster Press was sold to Newsquest. The new owners bought the
Review Group of titles in St Albans and Watford in May 1998 and the Review and Observer share offices in St Albans.
The Review was launched on October 4, 1973 - the first free newspaper in St Albans and one of the first "freebies" in the country. Today the series includes the St Albans Review, with an edition
for Harpenden, Welwyn and Hatfield Review and Watford Review with a combined circulation of 102,000, as well as leading local property weekly Property Review.
A strong community-based newspaper, St Albans Review launched the Review Half Marathon road race in 1981, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2001 after raising hundreds of thousands of pounds
for local charities.
Sponsorship of the Review Sunday Football League, now sponsored by the Observer and Review, began in 1978 and the league is now one of the biggest amateur soccer organisations in Hertfordshire. The
St Albans Review gained third place in the Free Newspaper of the Year category in the 1997 national Newspaper Awards.
The Review series was jointly founded by Alan Drake and Roy Scott; Alan Drake and his brother Phil Drake were both directors when the group was acquired by Newsquest in 1998.
Newsquest was in turn acquired by Gannett, the biggest publisher in the United States of America, in 1999.