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A million local newspaper stories set to go online

A weekly newspaper is set to release more than one millions news items from 100 years of its history online as part of a £50,000 project.

The Teesdale Mercury will launch the giant database on Wednesday after every available page of the paper from its first edition until 1955 was digitally recorded.

The project means readers will be able to view 100 years of news and adverts from the independent paper for free on a special archive website, which has been created with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Foyle Foundation.

More than 5,000 editions of the Mercury were scanned for the Teesdale Mercury Archive Project and the website contains around 40,000 pages, which are text-searchable.

Editor Trevor Brookes said: “The latest buzzword in the industry is hyperlocal, but this is not new to the Teesdale Mercury. We have been chronicling the life and times of Teesdale for more than 150 years and our philosophy remains the same: if it happens in Teesdale, then it goes in the Mercury.

“This old-fashioned approach to journalism will really help people who are looking back into the dale’s past via the Teesdale Mercury’s archives.”

The project has taken five years and has also been supported by Durham County Council, Darlington Borough Council, The Witham and Groundwork North East.

The name of the website will not be released until its official launch at an event on Wednesday, when members of the public can see demonstrations and find out more about how to use it.

Back copies of the paper are held at the Mercury offices, The Bowes Museum and the Witham Hall in Barnard Castle but these collections are incomplete and are so fragile that public access to them is severely limited.

The team behind the project hope the website will be used extensively by schoolchildren studying history and educational history consultant Alison Smith has been liaising with local schools to create teaching materials using the website.