Farewell to Express MD

Former Wakefield Express managing director Michael Robinson, who has died.
Former Wakefield Express managing director Michael Robinson, who has died.

THE man who first put news on the front page of the Wakefield Express has died, aged 93.

Michael Robinson was managing director and chairman of the newspaper group for more than 35 years and was in charge when it carried news on the front page for the first time in 1960.

His great-grandfather John Robinson launched the Express in March 1852, using a steam-powered press.

And the business remained in the family until it was sold to Johnston Press in 1985.

Michael Robinson lived in Carleton Lodge until 2004 and was a keen sportsman, playing for both Sandal Hockey and Yorkshire Gentlemen’s Cricket clubs.
He was also president of the Newspaper Society between 1968 and 1969, Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in 1971 and was awarded an OBE.

His daughter Rozanne Stephen, 61, said: “He had a very good sense of humour. He was quietly determined.

“He used to smoke a pipe, which he used to say was incredibly useful, especially when negotiating with the unions as it gave him time to think.

“He was an even tempered man and loved his family. He was great with us as we grew up and he loved his sport.”

Mr Robinson was also a keen golfer and enjoyed skiing and tennis.

The grandfather-of-five died on Tuesday in hospital after a short illness.

He was married to Barbara for 66 years before she passed away earlier this year, aged 90.

He leaves behind two other daughters, Janie Hill and Alex Nixon.

Mr Robinson was born in Halifax in 1919 and attended printing college in Leeds.

He joined the TA in 1938 and was called up to serve in the army in 1939, before joining the Express after he was demobbed in 1946.

He took over as managing director of Wakefield Express Series Ltd from his father Cecil in 1949.

It printed the Ossett Observer, Pontefract & Castleford Express and Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express and later became Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group (YWNG) in 1979.

Former YWNG editorial director Dick Taylor, 73, of Sandal, said: “He was a good-natured man and I always regarded him as one of life’s gentlemen.

“He was a fair employer and well-known and well-respected in the newspaper industry.”

A funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Church, Wonston, Hampshire, on Thursday at noon.