Four million newspaper pages go online


Four million newspaper pages have been put online as part of a massive history project.

The British Newspaper Archive website includes pages from more than 200 different papers from across the UK and Ireland with first hand accounts of events including the wedding of Victoria and Albert and the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Ed King, the British Library's Head of Newspapers, said it opened up the collection "as never before".

He said: "Rather than having to view the items on site at the Library, turning each page, people across the UK and around the world will be able to explore for themselves the goldmine of stories and information contained in these pages - and the ability to search across millions of articles will yield results for each user, that might previously have been the work of weeks or months, in a matter of seconds and the click of a mouse."

Pages from the Aberdeen Journal, Belfast Newsletter, Western Mail and Manchester Evening News are all included in the project.

Stories covered include murder trials, tales of transportation to Australia and the rise of the railways.

Readers can also search letters, illustrations and advertisements published in the papers which date back to the early 18th century and cover cities including Birmingham, Derby, Rochdale and Carlisle.

A team of experts have spent a year at the British Library's Newspaper Library at Colindale, north London, digitising up to 8,000 pages a day.

They expect to scan up to 40 million pages over the next 10 years.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said the archive was "a rich and hugely exciting resource".

He added: "I searched for my own constituency of Wantage and within seconds had 42,000 results - an indication of the breadth and variety of material featured."

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: "The British Newspaper Archive website opens up a magical new window on a magnificent treasure store of real history, recording the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in vibrant communities, rather than merely the cold facts of politics and pestilence. Thank goodness ageing newspapers are being brought back to life through new partnerships and modern, accessible media, to enthral new generations."