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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 27 August 2009

Frank Branston
Frank, great business brain behind launch of the New Journal

FRANK Branston, who helped to found this newspaper in 1982, has died at the age of 70.
Frank had many different careers – a journalist, a news proprietor and finally the first directly elected mayor of Bedford.
It was because we had a shared past as reporters at the Richmond and Twickenham Times, a weekly owned by the Dimbleby family, and active membership of the National Union of Journalists in the 1970s that I asked Frank to come on board as a founding member of the Camden New Journal.
At the time he was running one of the country’s first successful free weeklies, the Bedfordshire on Sunday, and was keen to put his new-found commercial expertise to use in yet another newspaper.
He left the editing to me and a fellow journalist, Angela Cobbinah, while he took over the commercial side – essentially the advertising salesroom.
He knew what I needed to know – how to navigate the tricky rapids of brutish commerce.
From the start he showed me the basics of business – the importance of motivated sales staff, interviewing them in style at the Town Hall, and the even greater importance of signed invoices for all sales. Like all self-made businessmen he hated bad debts – and showed me how to avoid them.
Without his help we could have plunged into the red within months.
But his heart lay with his own flourishing weekly and before the end of his first year he returned to Bedford.
Later, a company with which he was associated in Bedford, became our typesetters, and we worked closely together for a further two or three years.
As an old-fashioned newspaperman, it was inevitable that his paper would win awards. He wasn’t in newspapers for the money, he had a strong moral purpose and hated political hypocrisy. A mixture of local gossip and exposures of red tape, both among the police and local councillors, won his paper deserved awards as well as commercial success. One of his top reporters was an ex-police inspector! It wasn’t surprising that his paper soon dwarfed the main paid-for paper in the town.
Later, he set up several other frees in Luton and Milton Keynes and sold them for a considerable sum of money. Then he ran as Bedford’s first mayor and wiped the floor with opponents. He went on to work with a chief executive who had sued him for libel.
His funeral service takes place today (Thursday) at the Corn Exchange in Bedford.
He leaves a widow, Marlies, and two daughters, Antonia and Naomi.

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