Obiturary: Death of Mr Berwick Advertiser

Berwick lost one of its stalwarts last week with the death of former Berwick Advertiser editor Tony Langmack at the age of 89.

For many years Tony was known as ‘Mr Berwick Advertiser,’ and rightly so.

Hailing from Coldstream, where his father Hans was Provost, he first started work with the paper in 1945 ...and was still filing copy until shortly before his passing, an incredible 70-plus years later.

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Many honours were bestowed upon Tony during his lifetime, but the two he was most proud of were receiving an MBE for services to journalism and the local community in 1993 two years before he officially retired, and being made an Honorary Freeman of his adopted town Berwick in 2015.

Being a humble man, he always said he dedicated both awards to the many colleagues he had worked with over the years, claiming teamwork had always been key to getting the ‘Tizer’ out every week.

Over the years Tony worked on many big stories and his cuttings included the floods of 1948, Jim Clark winning the world drivers’ championship in 1963, Berwick Rangers beating Rangers in 1967 and the Penmanshiel rail tunnel tragedy.

When Tony began his career in August 1945, many of the paper’s staff were yet to return from war service. He said: “When I started there was a staff of only 16, with 15 more coming back from the forces within a year. At its peak there was a staff of more than 100 at Berwick and 25 more at Selkirk.”

He often recalled how getting to jobs was often difficult, with the company transport consisting of one bicycle and one car - local buses and the Spittal ferry were often used as an alternative.

Tony was appointed chief reporter in 1951 and subsequently editor in 1978, but not before twice turning down the offer of the role from former owner, Col JIM Smail. Editors he worked under included Mary Gray, Dave Smith and Ian Fraser.

Tony’s sporting interests included cricket - he played for Coldstream - Newcastle United and Berwick Rangers. His love of the Rangers spanned many years and in 1981 led to him writing the club’s centenary book.

He also wrote another sporting history - ‘Magdalene Fields Golf Club, the first 100 years.’

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Outside work he was also involved in many organisations including Rotary, Probus, St Andrew’s Club, the Talking Newspaper, Tweedmouth Old Folks Supper and Berwick Scouts. He was also a lifetime member of the NUJ and a former Berwick union branch secretary.

Only once was he ever tempted to leave Berwick - he was offered a job with the Newcastle Chronicle - but turned it down after a riverside walk with his wife, Catherine, citing afterwards: “Why the hell should I move from here.”

Tony was an ‘old school hack,’ always carrying a notepad (or more often than not just a scrap of paper) in his pocket. His shorthand was legendary - it was so small it was often said he could write an entire council meeting on one scrap of paper, or a Rangers report on the back of a cigarette packet!

The typewriter was his ‘computer’ of the day, but as technology moved on Tony found it difficult to adapt. On receiving his Honorary Freeman he joked: “When I first started out tweeting was something only the birds did!”

Tony had one son, Keith, who attended Berwick High School before going to university and later graduating as a doctor, something of which Tony was immensely proud.

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