The town's own dedicated journal
For more than three years in the mid-1990s, Billericay enjoyed its own dedicated monthly magazine entitled BILLERICAY LIFE. This free 40-page magazine was packed with regular articles on every conceivable topic – but it never strayed off its main purpose – the goings-on in this small town. Under the editorship of Peter Owen, a former deputy editor on the Echo newspaper, Peter said: “Running a hometown magazine so directly related to our readers gave me tremendous pleasure and quite a buzz.
“During most of my newspaper reporting days it had been customary to publish information only after the event. Rarely did local papers give advance notice of any upcoming projects, working on the basis that if people wanted to advertise, they paid to do so. Local people wanted to know the where, why, when and how of events which were yet to take place.
“That, together with a mix of young interests, older nostalgia and chatty pieces on Billericay people’s achievements, seemed to be a formula to which people could relate. I was very much aware that Billericay peoople, proud and protective of their town, and resentful of links elsewhere, wanted something that was their own.”
Peter wanted Billericay Life to embrace the lives of the people who lived here and he sought to publish their news, happy, wofeful and invariably humorous, and always bang up to date.
Around the news features, there were regular columns from local folk on gardening, music photography, money, wine, golf, cookery and, my favourite, a superb regular history column from the Cater Museum. How Peter managed it single-handed, we can’t imagine, but in its time, it was super journalism and ended its life in December 1999.