Webpage created: March 11, 2018
Webpage updated: March 11, 2018
ROBERT ALFRED JOHN WALLING (1869-1949)
Robert Alfred John Walling was born in Exeter on January 11th 1869.
After serving a year in the case-room of the Exeter "Express and Echo", he was apprenticed to the "Western Daily Mercury", where he was later appointed as the company's representative in west Cornwall. He then returned to Plymouth, where, in 1891, he started a football newspaper. This was very successful as it was the only such paper in the Westcountry. Mr Walling had been a member of the original Plymouth Argyle when it was an amateur club.
In 1893 he left Plymouth for Coventry to edit "The Bicycling News" but he was soon invited back to Plymouth by Mr Thomas Owen, the new owner of the "Western Daily Mercury", who asked him to draw up a scheme for launching an evening newspaper. The result was the publication of the "Western Evening Herald" in April 1895. He brought Mr James Joseph Judge with him to be sub-editor.
He married Miss Florence Victoria Greet on April 2nd 1894 at the Anglican Church of Saint Jude the Apostle.
In 1904 he became managing editor of the Western Newspaper Company, which comprised both the "Western Daily Mercury" and the "Western Evening Herald", and joined the board of directors in 1915.
Mr Walling resigned when the "Western Morning News" took over the "Western Daily Mercury" in 1921 and subsequently became editor of the weekly "Western Independent". This was Plymouth's only Sunday newspaper, which as newsagents were closed on Sundays had to be circulated by means of agents. He retired from that post in 1946 but remained a director of the Company.
In addition to his newspaper career, he also wrote some twenty detective novels and many books on the Westcountry in general. He had just completed the highly readable "Story of Plymouth" but he was not to see its publication.
He had also been chairman of the bench at the Plymouth Magistrate's Court for many years; a member of the General Licensing Planning Committee and chairman of the Plymouth Mercantile Association.
Mr Robert Alfred John Walling died at his home, Crofton, Merafield Road, Plympton, on Sunday September 4th 1949. One of his daughters had died during the Second World War and his wife had died in 1947. He was survived by one daughter, Miss Marjorie Walling, and two sons, Mr Robert Victor Walling, editor of the "South Devon Times", and Mr J Walling, owner of the Plymouth Process Engraving Company.