Peter Preston 1938 - 2018

Peter Preston who died on 6th January 2018 was the editor of the Guardian for twenty years. He was born in Barrow and went to Loughborough Grammar School. However his education was disrupted when he contracted  polio, as this meant long spells in hospital in Markfield sanatorium and then in Harlow Wood. His father had died aged 37 of polio.

When he was well enough to return to school there was some discussion about whether he should stay into the Sixth Form or leave: but he did stay and started to write for the school magazine and he got a holiday job on the Monitor ( Loughborough had two local papers at the time) . Because of his illness he could not do sport on a Wednesday afternoon so developed a lifelong interest in the cinema. He also went to the Theatre Royal in Loughborough to see magicians. It was through this he got involved in journalism: a butcher in Coalville asked him to review the magic shows on television for the Magic Circle News. When he went to Oxford to university he naturally worked for the student paper and then got a job working on the Liverpool Post as a trainee.  He joined the Guardian in 1963 and was appointed editor in 1975; he was the longest serving editor since C P Scott. He oversaw the merger with the Observer and continued to write for the Observer until just before his death.

In tributes to him his former colleagues describe him as extremely hard working; he did not get caught in the social life of journalists but preferred the cinema or watching Millwall. The headline to the tribute in the Observer is “Peter believed that journalism should try to make the world a better place”.

In an interview with the Leicester Mercury reprinted after his death he says “There’s nobody I know left in the Loughborough area now, because I’d like to go back and spend a few days there.”

There are many tributes to him available online, I referred to those in the  Leicester Mercury, The Observer and of course the Guardian.   

 

Kathryn Timmons    


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Last Updated. 29-January-2018 By Anthea