About Mortons - Company dates
1800 to 1900
1852 - Birth of W. K. Morton.
1856 - Market Rasen Mail founded by Walesby farmer Richard Hackett.
1878 - W. K. Morton bought D Cousans printing and stationery business in Horncastle Market Place.
1885 - Horncastle News founded by W. K. Morton.
1900 to 2000
1901 - Mechanical typesetting introduced at Horncastle.
1918 - C E Sharpe became employed by the Market Rasen Mail.
1935 - Death of W. K. Morton and start of demise of Morton publishing and printing empire which covered eleven centres throughout Lincolnshire and beyond.
1947 - C E Sharpe bought Market Rasen Mail.
1958 - C E Sharpe bought the Horncastle and Woodhall Spa News which was faced with closure.
1959 - P Smith (later to become Sales Director) joined Mortons.
1960 - Production of the Horncastle News and Market Rasen Mail centred upon Wharf Road, Horncastle, following the purchase of a reel-fed Cossar printing press from the old Gainsborough News.
1961 - P H Sharpe (now Managing Director of Mortons of Horncastle Ltd) took over editorial responsibility for the Horncastle News.
1968 - T A Clark (now Mortons Media Development Director) joins Mortons.
Mortons abandoned hot metal and moved to new "cold set" techniques and became the first newspaper company in Lincolnshire to print web-offset rather than letterpress. Improved quality laid basis for contract printing work
1970 - P. Smith appointed Production Director.
1974 - First units of conventional web-offset press were acquired.
1979 - Wharf Road premises outgrown and production moved to new site on Boston Road, Horncastle, providing scope for expansion.
1980 - Louth Leader founded by Mortons.
1983 - Death of C E Sharpe.
1984 - Mortons achieves million pound turnover.
1985 - Skegness News launched by Mortons.
1987 - Mortons achieves £2 million turnover.
1989 - New print record for Mortons - 860,000 copies in one week. £3 million turnover achieved. Mortons embarks on a management program and training initiative.
1990 - First computerised full-page make-up and introduction of 'on screen' advert make up. The first phase of Mortons expansion scheme takes place with the completion of the office block.
1992 - Purchase of 11 unit Goss Community press. After enduring recession period. Mortons' turnover exceeds £4m and prints over 1 million copies in a week.
1993 - P. Smith Production Director becomes Director (sales). B.S. Leatherland appointed Production Director; and B.V. Hill, Finance Director.
£200,000 spent on colour separation equipment. 1.4m copies printed on busiest week. BS5750 system quality award (first newspaper publishers in England to achieve this).
1994 - Over 1.8m copies on busiest week. Mortons publish Old Bike Mart, their first national publication.
1995 - Decision made to purchase new Goss Universal semi-commercial press complete with heat-set. £4m expansion plan approved by board.
1996 - Press hall doubled in size to accept new 8-unit Goss Universal press, the first of its kind in Europe. Heat set equipment installed plus trim-stitch finishing to enable Mortons to enter magazine market.
Mortons Media purchases Manchester Reporter group of free weekly papers.
1997 - Mortons commence production on new equipment. The company also achieves Investors In People standard. P. Smith appointed non-executive director of Mortons.
1998 - Morton's print 1.3-million copies per week in January, some 30% more than January 1997.
Company forming relationship with new University of Lincolnshire and South Humberside to promote management training.
£1.5m order placed for additional press equipment. Mortons establishes company site on World Wide Web.
Mortons purchases The Classic MotorCycle glossy monthly magazine from emap.
1999 - Mortons operations divide among three new companies; Mortons Print Ltd, Mortons Media Ltd and Mortons MotorCycle Media Ltd (all wholly owned by Mortons of Horncastle Ltd).
Mortons of Horncastle Ltd annual turnover now over £10m. Mortons Motorcycle Media purchases the two Stafford classic motorcycle shows, the largest of their kind in the country.
Mortons develop “new media” department and by the end of the year some 10,000 visits per month are recorded on Mortons motorcycling sites on the web.
2000 to present
2000 – Mortons Motorcycle Media purchases Classic Motorcycle Mechanics monthly from emap. Mortons now has the largest share of circulation in this niche market. Some 22,000 motorcycle enthusiasts visit the first Mortons-owned show at Stafford in April. Mortons Print installs CTP (computer to plate) technology to improve sevices for contract print customers. Mortons’ South Manchester Reporter series is sold to the Manchester Evening News.
2001 – Mortons takes the radical step of moving away from local publishing and, in February, sells its Lincolnshire Independent Newspaper group to Johnston Press. In April, Mortons Media extends Mortons’ involvement in classic magazine publishing by purchasing three monthly titles – Old Glory (largely dealing with the world of steam power), Heritage Railway and Vintage Commercial Vehicles (later relaunched as Heritage Commercials). These titles trade under the brand name Mortons Heritage Media. May sees further expansion of Mortons Motorcycle Media with the purchase of Classic Racer from RiM. In August, Mortons Media acquires CMS Videos, a company specialising in the production of steam and vintage videos. Mortons Motorcycle Media acquires the Used Motorcycle Guide, a monthly magazine, from Motive Media in November.
2002 – Mortons Print acquires the long-established newspaper printing business of the Newark Advertiser in June. The press at Newark, a double-circumference Harris, is complementary to that at Horncastle and extends the firm’s capabilities.
2003 – Mortons Motorcycle Media acquires the monthly magazines Classic Bike Guide and Used Bike Guide (which later becomes part of Motor Cycle Monthly) from Trinity Mirror; also the twice-yearly Which Bike?. Two further titles, Scootering (monthly) and Twist & Go (bi-monthly) are acquired from Stuart Lanning, trading as Scootering Magazine. This takes Mortons Motorcycle Media into a new area of two-wheeled transport. Mortons Heritage Media launches Tractor and Farming Heritage magazine in July. Mortons completes the purchase of the adjoining Boston Road factory site (from Phillips Animal Health). Work commences immediately on the new Mortons Media Centre, built as an extension to the main Mortons building.
2004 – Mortons Media Centre is opened by John Surtees OBE, the only person ever to hold both motorcycling and car racing world championships. Angela Spencer and Helen Harness join the board of Mortons of Horncastle – the third generation of the Sharpe family to do so.
2005 – Mortons Heritage Media acquires Kitchen Garden, Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazines and Towpath Talk free distribution newspaper. An order is placed for a MAN Roland Uniset press capable of 96 pages in full colour, complete with online inserting, trimming and stitching. Dan Savage is appointed publisher of the Heritage and Lifestyle portfolio.
2006 – Mortons Media launches the first free distribution newspaper in the bike market, Motor Cycle Monthly. A £10m press installation project at Morton Way is completed by the end of March. The Newark press, now over 30 years old, is sold off. Kathryn Pinder joins as company secretary of Mortons of Horncastle.
2007 – Ian Fisher, who joined Mortons Print Ltd in 2006 as commercial director (from Northcliffe Press, Stoke), is appointed managing director of Mortons Print and joins the Mortons of Horncastle main board. Mortons Media Group launches Classic Dirt Bike magazine.
2008 – Mortons’ MAN Uniset press is extended with the addition of a second folder and ancillary mailroom equipment. The year also sees a record attendance at Stafford Classic Motorcycle Show with many-times world champion Giacomo Agostini as guest of honour. Brian Hill, formerly finance director, takes over as managing director of Mortons Media from Terry Clark (who had been involved with Mortons since 1968). Terry Clark continues in the role of development director, Malcolm Wheeler, formerly publishing director, becomes associate director and editor of Classic Racer, Dan Savage and Nigel Hole become directors of Mortons Media Group, while Kathryn Pinder becomes financial director of MMG and MoH.
2009 – Mortons Print acquires ‘page turning’ software to enable publishers to make their product accessible on the internet. Mortons Print is also successful at the national Production Journal print awards with four nominations and one championship – Niche Publication of the Year. Mortons Media acquires Classic American magazine and launches Aviation Classics.
2010 – Mortons Media acquires the market leading Railway Magazine, Rail Express and Real Classic. Lincolnshire Mailing is acquired by Mortons Print to develop on-site services for both print customers and Mortons Media.
2011 – Ian Fisher becomes chief executive of Mortons of Horncastle Ltd. and also chairman of both Mortons Media Group and Mortons Print boards.
2012 – Mortons Media Group launches the web-based Classic Bikers Club and acquires The International Classic Dirt Bike Show, the largest show of its kind in Europe. The Classic Bike Guide Winter Classic Show is launched at Newark in January and The Great Scottish Bike Show is launched at Lanark. Nigel Hole is appointed commercial director across Print and Media in May. Dan Savage becomes publishing director, while Steve Rose and Julie Brown are appointed as publishers of Mortons motorcycle and lifestyle/heritage titles respectively.
2013 – In February Mortons Print is consolidated into Mortons Media Group Ltd. forming a single operating company.