The Newbury Weekly News

The Newbury Weekly News was founded in 1867. Although not the first in its field, it is the only Newbury newspaper to have been published continuously from its Victorian beginning through to the present day. It is still published on a Thursday, Newbury's market day, givng rise to the local phrase "Pig and paper day".

Circulation area

From the start the paper aimed to serve and cover the whole of west Berkshire, and from time to time laid claim to portions of adjoining counties. In the north of the county it competed with Jackson's Oxford Journal, to the west with the Marlborough Gazette, to the south with the Basingstoke Gazette and to the east with the Reading newspapers.

NWN-mastheads

Content

Much of the content in the early years was taken from national papers, because many readers would not have seen any other newspaper, but local news was an important element from the beginning, and gradually took over the full run of the paper. Institutional proceedings, such as meetings of the town corporation, gas board, board of health and the various local courts of justice were reported on at length, often verbatim.

Birth, marriage and death announcements were carried (as paid items) from the beginning, but from the 1920s onwards weddings and funerals were featured as news items, usually with extensive lists of attendees. Photographs appeared regularly from the post-Edwardian period.

Freemasonry was far less publicity-shy in Victorian times, and  many pillars of the civic establishment were masons. The gatherings of local lodges were reported fully, usually giving the names of officials.

Coverage of sporting events, initially reserved for gentlemanly activities such cricket and hunting, expanded from the 1880s to cover more popular activities such as football. Bank holidays usually featured sporting galas of various races, matches and contests, the results of which were faithfully reported.

At the beginning of the First World War deaths of local soldiers were reported. As they multiplied this became a simple listing, abandoned altogether by 1916 because of the horrendous scale of fatalities. During the Second World War there was a ban on identifying the exact location of any bomb damage, which gave rise to headlines such as "Air fight over a Home Counties village" and "Bombs near a town in the south of England". The articles usually contained enough clues for locals to pinpoint the event, but when this censorship was lifted, a fuller account was published in April 1945 of local damage.

Access to old issues

Copies of the Newbury Weekly News can be seen on microfilm in Newbury Library (as well as the British Library Newspaper Collection). The Newbury Weekly News office (in addition to its own microfilm set and the original bound volumes) has its own library of cuttings filed by subject, going back to around the mid-1970s, although some subject files go back much further. This library is not generally open to the public, although access may be granted on special request. The NWN also has a subject index to the issues from 1867 to 1914; handwritten into a bound volume, it is not easy to use and is often inaccurate in its references, but it is the only such index that exists.

Additional information