It was founded in November 1854, initially as a monthly publication – on the basis that the founder-editor, James Urquhart Anderson, wanted to be sure whether the readership would be big enough before attempting to bring out a weekly. After three fairly turbulent decades, including a 10-year spell when the paper passed into the ownership of the Kirkwall Press Company (Anderson gradually regained sole control) and then faced near-bankruptcy under his son (also James), it became more firmly established under William R. Mackintosh, editor from 1877 and owner from 1895.
Since Mackintosh had married the younger James’s daughter, it remained in the same family (with another change of name as Mackintosh’s elder granddaughter Elizabeth married Robert Miller), and continued to do so until May 2007 when it was bought by a new company, Orkney Media Group Ltd, who also owned the separately-run weekly Orkney Today until its demise in 2010. Even so, the Miller family are still involved – they own 50% of OMG.
Perhaps unusually, the switch from broadsheet to tabloid format came following a poll of readers and took place in 1987.
The company’s offices and printworks are in Hell’s Half Acre in Hatston, Kirkwall – a purpose-built centre originally shared with Orkney Today and now occupied by The Orcadian alone. The editorial offices are in Albert Street in Kirkwall.
It comes out on Thursdays. An e-edition has been available by paid subscription since November 2012; apps are also available for iOS, Android, Kindle and Windows 8 devices.