WHEN the first Shuttle was published on February 12, 1870, neither its readers nor its reporters could have imagined how much the town and its newspaper would change over the next 150 years.

People reading the first edition would not recognise the Kidderminster of today. A town centre designed for the horse and cart era was transformed into an industrial town - once a bustling hub for the carpet industry - and later, a key location for ongoing housing development.

The Kidderminster Shuttle itself has also evolved. What started out as an eight-page family-run publication - the first newspaper to be printed in the town - has become a multi-media news publisher with more than 64,000 readers each week.

Kidderminster Shuttle: Edward Parry, founder of The Shuttle, in his mayoral robes. He was Mayor of Kidderminster in 1898 and 1899Edward Parry, founder of The Shuttle, in his mayoral robes. He was Mayor of Kidderminster in 1898 and 1899

The paper's founder, Edward Parry, was a Unitarian minister and a local headmaster and would go on to be mayor of Kidderminster in the late 1890s.

His decision to enter journalism likely stemmed from his childhood; at 11 years of age, he began learning the printing trade in Birmingham.

The Shuttle's unique name was inspired by an integral part of a carpet loom - a tribute to the industry which put the town on the map.

The printing and publishing of the Kidderminster Shuttle marked the introduction of steam-driven printing machinery to Kidderminster. Its first printing office was in a former flour mill and preparing for print was a long and complicated job.

As the Kidderminster Shuttle began to find its feet, a small printing plant was installed.

Three iconic town statues - to Richard Baxter in the Bull Ring, Sir Rowland Hill in Vicar Street and Richard Eve in Brinton Park - were all erected largely as a result of the Shuttle's influence. The inscriptions were written by Mr Parry, who was acknowledged as a master of English prose.

Kidderminster Shuttle: The first edition of The Shuttle, published February 12, 1870The first edition of The Shuttle, published February 12, 1870

The next phase in the Shuttle's history came in 1903, when a group of American journalists used their talents to write up the local histories of English towns. An industrial study of Kidderminster was printed and published by the Shuttle and established its reputation.

Then, the first world war compelled a major change in the printing of the paper, when the prevailing conditions led to the introduction of machine setting.

Between 1914 and 1918, the Shuttle provided a link between the soldiers and their homes, every week carrying stories and pictures of local men called to fight.

Hundreds of Shuttles were sent each week to the battlefields and, as a result of a series of articles published, food parcels were sent regularly to serving soldiers by relatives, friends and charities.

In the 1920s, Mr Parry's two sons Clive and Arthur took the reins and the Shuttle eventually moved to Corporation Street.

By 1930, a new chapter began as the paper was acquired by the County Express of Stourbridge and, in 1931, a new company, the Kidderminster Shuttle Ltd, was formed.

Big changes came in the production and lay-out of the paper. Instead of an eight-page sheet printed on a flat bed machine, it was printed by rotary press at Stourbridge.

Representatives began calling on local tradespeople and collecting advertisements and so the Shuttle increased both in size and popularity.

From 1939 to 1945, wartime conditions made it very difficult to maintain production. Materials, especially paper and ink, were in short supply and restrictions were put on all newspapers.

The staff too was depleted by the call-up of editorial and printing employees, but the Shuttle never failed to come out and within a few years of the war ending, the paper was firmly back on its feet.

In January 1952, it became the first local newspaper to print news and pictures on the front page instead of the traditional trade and auction advertisements.

Kidderminster Shuttle: The Shuttle's production team in 1970, featured in a centenary edition of the paperThe Shuttle's production team in 1970, featured in a centenary edition of the paper

It was later purchased by Newsquest Media Group and is now part of a group of newspapers produced in Stourbridge and printed in Weymouth.

The paper was renamed The Shuttle to incorporate the Kidderminster Shuttle, the Stourport News and Kidderminster Times.

Despite difficult times for the print newspaper industry, thousands of print copies of The Shuttle, featuring local news, sport, announcements and business, job and property advertisements, are still produced and read by thousands of people every week.

2018 saw the launch of the Advertiser and Shuttle Camera Club, which today has more than 1,000 members and sees hundreds of photographs shared on its Facebook page each month.

Last year, The Shuttle's website attracted more than half a million page views for the first time in September as its online audience continues to grow.

The Shuttle has an exciting year planned to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Read tomorrow's edition for more information.