The first locally printed newspaper circulated on the Pilgrim’s Rest gold fields was the Gold News of January 1874. Shortly afterwards the name was changed to the Gold Fields Mercury, with W J Phelan as editor. Unfortunately it is unknown in which building (or on which stand) this newspaper was printed. In 1876, freedom of the press became an issue at Pilgrim’s rest, when the outspoken Mr Phelan published an editorial criticising Dr John Scoble, the Gold Commissioner. The previous year, Phelan had also published an editorial wherein he criticised the government of Pres. Burgers of the ZAR and supported the views of the diggers. Scoble had Phelan brought before court; had fined him £27 10s and sentenced him to two weeks imprisonment. The diggers immediately held a meeting, marched to the jail and released Phelan – openly defying the Gold Commissioner and his policemen. Freedom of speech and the press prevailed.

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