Big thank you from

Ulster Star 65 years and celebrating

65 years old - and planning for an exciting future

Morton Newspapers 65

Morton Newspapers Head Office in Carn.MORTON NEWSPAPERS are 65 years old.

But far from being retiring types, it's ever-forward with Northern Ireland's biggest, brightest and most progressive newspaper group

Ever on the look-out for new titles and fresh challenges, there are no fewer than 23 newspapers in the Morton stable - almost exclusively weekly, the exception being 'Farmweek' which diligently serves the farming community.

The 22 provincials serve most of Northern Ireland - from Coleraine to Dungannon, Larne to Londonderry, Portadown to Magherafelt, and most points in between.

Around two-thirds of the map of Northern Ireland is covered by Morton's weekly newspapers, and it is reckoned that 500,000 glean information about their local area from the publications printed on our full-colour Rockwell Universal 35 press at Carn Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Portadown.


Helene Hanna, Manageing-DirectorIt's all very different from the day in 1936 that Mr. John Morton - a First World War. veteran --began the success story when he bought the, Lurgan Mail, his home-town local paper.

Having worked for some time with the now-defunct Belfast: morning newspaper, the Northern Whig, Mr. Morton decided to enter the trade as a proprietor, but never dreamed it would burgeon into the empire of today. 

The major push for new titles came when his son Mr James Morton, took over the company - he was prolific in his addition of new title to the Morton portfolio.

He saw the potential in the busy town of Lisburn, where he started the Ulster Star from scratch, bought over the Portadown Times in his neighbouring town, took over the Londonderry Sentinel, purchased the Larne and Ballymena Times series from the Belfast Telegraph, set up the Coleraine Times series, among a series of never-ending expansions. His energies knew no bounds.


Full Colour advertising and design departmentDuring all this expansion, James Morton set up Ireland's first web offset printing press in Lurgan, and initiated colour into the provincial weekly scene.

The third generation of the family - John Morton - continued the progress when he introduced new titles like the Tyrone Times and Banbridge Leader and the firm moved into the £4.5 million purpose-built headquarters at Carn, Portadown, in November 1995.

This move coincided with the acquisition of the Morton Newspapers Group by Scottish Radio Holdings, which controls radio stations like Radio Clyde, Radio Forth and Radio West all in Scotland.

Further investment kept the company ahead in the technological field, and full on-screen computerised lay-out and the most modern of printing methods finish the job started in the newspaper offices throughout the province.


It's all light years ahead of the old 'hot metal' linotype methods employed in the days of the company's 'father' Mr. John Morton.

The futuristic printing facilities opened the door for contract printing, and Morton's print daily and Sunday titles as well as the family of 23 'home' titles.

Despite these innovative steps into hi-tech, employment figures at Morton's have increased to 350 to carry the added range of activities.

Said managing-director Helene Hanna, "In these days of intense competition, we have to stay ahead of the field and diversify.

"The contract printing has given the firm a fresh edge, and we are always on the look-out for new titles and additional printing contracts."

Who knows what the future holds...

  • Northern Ireland's largest weekly Newspaper Group 
  • Over 200,000 copies sold or distributed weekly
  • Over 500,000 readers
  • 23 titles
  • Readership demographics match those of the population profiles in the areas covered


Star Photographers - Simon Graham and Niall Marshall LIKE Lisburn itself, the Ulster Star has come a long way since the paper was launched back in October 1957. The town of Lisburn is becoming bigger and brighter all the time and the borough's favourite read, the Ulster Star, is keeping pace with all the changes.

The Star's position as a local newspaper truly serving the local community remains undisputed at the beginning of the 21st century.

However, circumstances were drastically different when the Star was brazenly launched by a young man called Jim Morton in 1957.

The paper faced stiff competition from two other long-established titles in the town but it is a fitting testament to the success of the paper that now only the Star remains.

The paper has changed dramatically in style and substance from the original tabloid lay-out in 1957.

Morton Newspapers, now 65 yeas old, has not only kept up with the massive changes in technology in the newspaper industry in the past 40 years but has led the way.

Reception Staff - Sandra Benson, Yvonne Stewart and Beth MegarryThe benefits of the company doing exactly that are there for all to see with the expertise of the production and technical staff evident in the bright new look produced entirely on screen and printed on a superb full colour press at company headquarters in Portadown.

Lisburn has developed enormously since it was awarded borough status in 1964.

It now occupies pride of place in Northern Ireland thanks to a host of major developments  in recent years and is the biggest borough in the Province. Indeed only Belfast is a bigger council area.

The Star editorial teamThe Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, Lisburn Borough Council's new Civic Centre, which incorporates superb arts facilities, at Lagan Valley Island and the impending Lisburn Square development on the old swimming pool site are concrete evidence of these being exciting times for the borough.

Editorial staff lay out pages with our computerised on - screen facilitiesLisburn is definitely on the up and up and we are delighted to be able to say that so is the Star.

In every facet of newspaper publishing the Star is the leader. News, features, pictures, advertisements and sport - we pride ourselves on being the best.

Camera Room staff adjusting and sizing picturesAs Lisburn has grown so have we and as the town's expansion continues at an ever increasing pace, we assure our readers we will not be found wanting.

We never forget that the success of the Ulster Star and of Morton Newspapers as a whole could only have been achieved thanks to the support of you, our readers and advertisers.

We are indebted to you for our position today.

And we are conscious that your support has not been given without a reason and are ever mindful of that fact.

We cannot expect your goodwill without providing a service to you, our readers and advertisers, and we will endeavour to continue providing that service and look forward to the future with increasing confidence.