D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd are a major force in British publishing, to the extent that they’re responsible for one of the “Three Js” that were traditionally the mainstays of the economy of their home town of Dundee – “jam, jute and journalism”. Although they’re perhaps at least as well-known for their magazines (The People’s Friend) and particularly their comics (The Beano, The Dandy), they do also publish several newspapers for Dundee, Aberdeen and the wider North East of Scotland, as well as the major Scottish Sunday newspaper The Sunday Post.
The company’s history goes back to the 19th century, when William Thomson became the owner of Charles Alexander &. Co., who published the Dundee Courier and Daily Argus. His son David Coupar Thomson took over the running of the paper in 1886, aged just 25. In 1905 the company D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd was founded, with David, his father and his brother William (who’d joined him in 1888) owning all but four of the 6,000 shares in the company – their wives had one share each, and one Frances Thomas Mudie got the fourth.
William died in 1917, at which point D. C. became the sole proprietor. He was strongly conservative (with a capital and a small C) and wasn’t shy of making use of his prerogatives as owner; he fought vigorously against trade union influence in his company and refused to employ Roman Catholics.
Between 1920 and 1922 he campaigned vigorously against Winston Churchill, who at the time was a Liberal MP for the city. Unsurprisingly, in the 1922 General Election the Conservative Courier came out against Churchill, who lost his seat. But it (and all the company’s other titles) were barred from mentioning Churchill’s name for nearly another two decades, until his role in the Second World War made the bar impossible to maintain any longer.
D. C. Thomson died in 1954 at the age of 93. The company remains in family hands – current Chairman Andrew Thomson is William’s grandson, and all three directors are descendants.
The company had a number of spats with adult comic Viz over the latter’s infringement of Thomson’s copyright characters in the mid-1990s. Viz retaliated against Thomson’s threats of legal action by creating a strip called “D.C. Thompson the Humourless Scottish Git”; they were paid back in kind when The Dandy resurrected its old “The Jocks and the Geordies” strip for a one-off tilt at Thomson’s Newcastle-based nemesis.
The headquarters in Albert Square in Meadowside closed temporarily in April 2013 to allow a major refurbishment to go ahead, improving the building’s energy efficiency and environmental credentials. Work was expected to be completed in late 2014. Staff have relocated to the company’s Kingsway works in the meantime.
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- D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
80 Kingsway East
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