About us (and we answer that question – ‘why Raikes?’)

The Raikes Journal exists to share news and stories from the Gloucestershire business community - and those other areas of county life which really matter to it, its charities (there are 2,000-plus of them!) and its training and education providers. It is pro-Gloucestershire, written by journalists, editorially driven, rooted in the county and community minded. Its lead content strives to be original. If you see it anywhere else, perhaps they have been ‘inspired’ by our work.

Its aim is to champion the business community, the work of the charity and voluntary sector, the universities, colleges, and training providers - to cover the news they want covered, the stories they would like to know about and those it has no idea exist.

And we want it to be a platform for the views and comments of all of the above through our Expert Opinion section

We might even manage some sport news and coverage of the festivals - from art to music, and even that other big annual event in Prestbury.

With your help, and unrivalled knowledge and contacts garnered from two decades paddling the business connections in this county, the magic of friendships and partnerships, we plan to gather and drop these ingredients into the vessel that is the TheRaikesJournal.co.uk and raise it high in celebration of Gloucestershire (think of it as a kind of on-line version of the Severn Cross flag) - and to make it stronger as it embarks on shaping a new, post-lockdown world.

An annual magazine – The Raikes Journal’s Who’s Who of Gloucestershire - is planned, to showcase the very best of the business people we profile throughout the year.

How will we share your stories?

No one has been responsible for growing a business audience in Gloucestershire as many times as the brains behind The Raikes Journal. Our starting point at launch was roughly 11,000 social media connections in Gloucestershire. We will share the stories on a daily news bulletin to 8,300-plus connections on LinkedIn and 2,280-plus on Twitter. That figure continues to grow, as does our Facebook and Instagram audience. The multiplier effect of the 'sharing' and 'liking' will only add to that number. Tag us in to get our attention by using #raikesjournal.

Still with us? Good...

Andrew Merrell

Founder and editor, Andrew Merrell, is a journalist with 25 years-plus years’ experience in print and online and has an unrivalled knowledge among any journalists of the county's business community. He set up the first ever business website covering Gloucestershire (yes, he pre-dates the internet), the first adaptive local business website in the UK, edited business Gloucestershire business magazines Agenda and Business News, the regional Southwestbusiness.co.uk magazine and was business editor for The Citizen, Gloucestershire Echo, Stroud Life newspapers and the websites ThisisGloucestershire.co.uk, Gloucestershirelive.co.uk and Punchline-Gloucester.co.uk.

Our provenance...

We host this website on a server here Gloucestershire, our phones run through a county business, our business cards are printed here at the incredible Manor Printing Services at Wotton-under-Edge. If you advertise with us our funds run through the Gloucestershire Credit Union.

According to the credit union "we operate just within Gloucestershire and, by saving or borrowing with us, your money will be doing good at the same time through supporting the local economy and helping other people within Gloucestershire’s communities". Which we liked the sound of very much.

Aside from your stories...

While we aim to champion Gloucestershire and all of you who make it great, and to survive we also need your financial support.

Become our headline sponsor, buy one of the other four homepage slots, sponsor a channel for not a lot (relatively speaking), buy a (series of?) comment pieces (not a lot either), a sponsored article, get links added to your posts, hire us to cover your events and other options. Prices start from as little as £3 a day (that's not a typo).

If you are a sports club and want us to host your match reports, a charity, a school that needs to raise funds, please talk to us.

Importantly, if you are a small charity headquartered here in Gloucestershire this site could well be free for you. Which means if you want to place post a regular column, send us an article to get in front of the business community, just do it. We'll do our best to make this happen for you.

Magic we might be, but we have still got to communicate in the same old ways. When was face-to-face not best? But failing that… see our Contact Us page for more details.

If you want to make a complaint

It is important The Raikes Journal get things right. We are committed to high standards, but in the event we do get something wrong we would like to know about it. If you have any feedback about our conduct, editorials, staff, please email editor@raikesjournal.co.uk. We will acknowledge your complaint in writing or by email within seven calendar days.

Click here to read our terms and conditions

Why Raikes that name up from the past?

The name Raikes: We quite liked this from houseofnames.com, which claims the name Raikes is a topographic surname given to people who resided on land characterised by hills, streams, rivers and trees.

Remind you of any particular county?

Robert Raikes House, Southgate Street

The title: The Raikes Journal is us tipping our hat to Robert Raikes - which isn’t just the name of Gloucester’s incredible timber-framed jewel of a public house in Southgate Street dating from 1560. A statue stands in Gloucester Park celebrating the businessman and philanthropist Robert Raikes, after whom the former merchant’s house takes its name (or does it take it from his dad?). Robert Raikes the younger (1736-1811) is the man credited with establishing the Sunday School Movement – a way of educating the young at a time when such a thing was only for the privileged few. It was a radical idea which struck fear into the ruling classes who feared an uprising of the downtrodden, and there own demise. Not a bad legacy in itself, but it was Raikes the Elder (1690-1757) who established the Gloucester Journal newspaper, a business he co-founded on April 8, 1722 – beginning the enterprise at the aforementioned Southgate Street property, now pub. After his death his son also went on to run the business as a success.

Raikes the Elder championed the emerging free press, very probably even invented the very phrase and concept of the free press (as he battled the authorities, reporting on such things as the starving poor and the strikes of the Stroud mill workers). In doing so - as they tried to silence him and the emerging idea of 'reporting' - he helped establish what have become the tenets of journalism. It is widely accepted the Gloucester Journal is the forerunner of the Gloucester Citizen newspaper (The Citizen and Gloucester Journal, to give it its full name) – morphing into that title in 1992.

Until The Citizen’s demise as a daily newspaper it was heralded as perhaps the longest running daily regional newspaper in the UK and today can still lay claim to being the second oldest continually published newspaper in the world. Our editor, Andrew Merrell, worked there. Not as young as he was, neither is he old enough to have met Mr Raikes (Elder or Younger), but he is happy for the connection to go on record. Joining the trend of recent years among Gloucestrians as they attempt to break with the habit of decades and champion their city’s rich history, he hopes The Raikes Journal will do its bit for the worthy cause - and for the wider county.

He hopes The Raikes Journal will do its bit to keep alive the flame of local news Mr Raikes lit all those years ago.

Mr Merrell would like to thank Gloucester Civic Trust, and in particular Hugh Worsnip, without whom this page would not have been half as interesting or accurate. For the record, Mr Worsnip is not just an officiando on Robert Raikes, junior and senior. He also does guided tours in which he impoarts his wisdom. And in his working life he was a life-long servant of the aforementioned Gloucester Journal and Citizen. If anyone can truly lay claim to keeping the flame lit by Robert Raikes alive it is Mr Worsnip. (To find out more visit Gloucester Civic Trust).

Image above shows the statue of Robert Raikes (the Younger) in Gloucester Park.

If you would like to find out more about Robert Raikes, Gloucester history, or Gloucestershire history, a good place to begin is with the Gloucester Civic Trust which kindly checked over the above copy and gave it a stamp of approval.

More than just historical figures

On the eve of us launching The Raikes Journal we received a surprising message about the name we had chosen to use. 

If you have read the words above in our About Us you will know that Robert Raikes senior started the Gloucester Journal in 1722 and his son, Robert Raikes (the Younger) took over the paper that became The Citizen.

As his father had helped establish the tenets of journalism, the free press and a reputation for philanthropy, as well as business, his son would continue – and top it by becoming the man who helped establish the revolutionary Sunday School Movement. 

"Sunday schools already existed, but he helped organise and establish them. First in Gloucester, then the county, the country then internationally - all within his lifetime," said Hugh Worsnip, of Gloucester Civic Society. 

"Between 1770 and 1880 between seven and eight million children in Britain learned how to read and write at Sunday School. That enabled the industrial revolution." 

Statues by Sir Thomas Brock stand in Gloucester Park, in London and in Toronto, Canada, to commemorate the achievement by Mr Raikes the Younger. 

Not until the Elementary Education Act 1870 was the way paved for compulsory education for children, with attendance not becoming truly compulsory (until age 10) in 1880. 

That it took a further 100 years to make education accessible for all spoke volumes for how much the ruling classes of the time feared and educated underclass. 

All of which seems such a long time ago.  

And then theraikesjournal.co.uk received its message – from a surviving member of the Raikes family about the decision of this business news website to use the Raikes name in its title. And an extraordinary story.  

“I do not mind,” said Deborah Raikes May, about the decision to use the family name - words which brought a sense of relief here at theraikesjournal.co.uk. And that was enough for us, after all, sheis Mr Raikes the Younger’s great, great, great, great granddaughter.  

But it was what she said next which moved us, and made us realise Raikes is more than just a name from half-forgotten history.  

“I have been aware of the family legacy ever since I can remember. It is something we grew up with and something my father was particularly proud of, especially as he got older,” said Ms Raikes May, who works at Gloucestershire County Council.  

And then she told us why she had been so moved to get in touch.  

“We buried my father (Des Raikes May) yesterday. He died of coronavirus, aged 86. It is like a body blow. I ache and I am hurting.  

“It is really strange, but I am really, really pleased for my dad that you are using the name. My father would be so chuffed.”  

The timing of her hearing our plans was, she knows better than anyone, entirely coincidental. But she said she enjoyed the comfort of wondering – if only just a little – if there was not more too it.  

“If I was of that ilk (meaning superstitious), and I am not, I would think it was my dad pulling strings.” 

As with every ‘famous’ or historical figure there is always more than meets the eye, those ‘other bits’ edited from history – and then there are all the family members who also achieve extraordinary things, none of which are recorded for posterity.  

“Robert Raikes’ own forebear was a court diarist and another the governor of the Bank of England,” said Ms Raikes May.  

When Robert Raikes the Elder and his son strode through the streets of Gloucester, women were little written into history. 

“He had a sister, Serah who was a novelist who had to publish under a man’s name. There is plenty of evidence that she wrote a lot of his features for him for the newspaper,” she said.  

Of course, times change. The one-time family home in Southgate Street – where Mr Raikes’ wife used to serve plum cake to the Sunday School children in the 18th century - is now a beautifully restored Sam Smith’s Brewery pub.  

The other family pile, the grand Ladybellegate House at 20 Longsmith Street – bland on the outside, but described as ‘magnificent’ on the inside – was rescued by the Gloucester Civic Trust in 1978 and is now a private residence 

And every generation since has pursued its own path. And perhaps that is one of the greatest characteristic of the family name? 

A strong belief in religion is one of the other traits which has permeated through to the present day within some in the family line, according to Ms Raikes May.  

Her father, Des (Douglas Desmond Raikes May), was in the navy. He is survived by his wife, Margaret rose Raikes May, an active octogenarian and former nursing sister who helped run lunch clubs for the older generation until the pandemic – not to mention being a mother of three children, including Deborah.  

There is a fascinating, amusing and tragic story, of an uncle Charlie whose adventures took him to the copper mines of Zambia and who died unexpectedly in a way we cannot repeat here.  

When his body was brought back to the UK it came with a surprise package – a ‘second’ wife who claimed custom in her country demanded it was the husband’s family’s responsibility to look after her thereafter.  

Des Raikes May’s own father was the first Conservative shop steward of Great Western Railway, an alderman and district councillor and chairman of Age Concern.  

His wife was Beulah Giddings Raikes May, a name reflecting both the Irish and Jewish heritage now within the family line.  

Mr Raikes May’s older brother, Roy, still farms within Gloucestershire – well into his eighties.  

If, after reading about the sadly forgotten sister, Serah, you are wondering where the women are in the story it seems there has been an overwhelming male lineage. Deborah revealed she was one of the few female direct relations.  

As our conversation with Robert Raikes the Younger’s great, great, great, great granddaughter draws to a close we realise we too are repeating history by not having asked enough about the female line. 

The mistake of not having done so is our loss. As she signs-off she casually mentions she too writes, as her distant relatives did, and leaves us with the tantalising crumbs of a story about the time she spent in the post-war refugee camps of Bosnia working with Oxfam.