Newspapers can be used for detailed descriptions of events and personalities which cannot be found elsewhere. They are a day to day record of local happenings and Liverpool Record Office has a vast collection of local papers.
Most newspapers have been microfilmed and can only be viewed in this format because the originals are too fragile. The main disadvantage of newspapers is that they are not usually indexed, though this has been partly rectified with the British Newspaper Archive.
18th century newspapers
The two main newspapers are Williamson's Liverpool Advertiser starting in 1756, later Billinge's Liverpool Advertiser and then the Liverpool Times (lasted until 1856) and the Liverpool General Advertiser which started in 1765 and lasted until 1875. Both were mainly shipping papers and listed some Liverpool happenings but concentrated on London news. They focused mainly on the shipping activities of the Port of Liverpool. Both were weekly newspapers.
19th century newspapers
The Liverpool Mercury for the 19th century has been digitised by the British Library. It can be accessed for free on the Digital Library, available to all library members on Liverpool library computers.
Newspapers really came into their own after Stamp Duty was abolished in June 1855. Before this, newspapers were expensive and usually only published on a weekly rather than a daily basis. In 1827 a copy of the Liverpool Mercury cost seven pence. The new Daily Post which started on June 11th 1855 was the first penny daily newspaper. These are the main 19th century newspapers in Liverpool:
- Daily Post 1855 to 2013 (merged with the Liverpool Mercury in 1904), changed its name to Liverpool Daily Post and back again.
- Evening Express 1870 to 1958.
- Liverpool Daily Courier 1863 to 1929 (name changed to just Daily Courier and then back again).
- Liverpool Echo started 1879 to date (now Liverpool’s only daily newspaper).
- Liverpool Mercury started 1811 to 1904 (merged with the Daily Post above) Indexed half yearly to 1824/5.
- The Post, Courier and Mercury were 'quality' papers, and the Echo and Evening Express more 'popular' papers. There is also a specific shipping paper on microfilm: Liverpool Telegraph Shipping Gazette May 1846 to 1887.
20th century newspapers
By 1940 there were only three main Liverpool newspapers left.
- Daily Post ceased publication in 2013, daily but became a weekly paper (from 2012) with national, regional, and some local news. A Welsh edition has also been published from 1961 onwards. We have holdings to 2007.
- Liverpool Echo still published, an afternoon paper with more local items covering Merseyside as a whole. With the demise of the Daily Post this is now Liverpool’s only daily newspaper.
- Evening Express, a popular evening paper like the Echo. This ceased publication in October 1958 and was taken over by the Liverpool Echo.
- Journal of Commerce was a shipping paper which started in October 1861. Liverpool Record Office has a microfilm set from June 1939 to 1974 when it ceased publication and bound copies from 1914 to 1974 (incomplete).
- Liverpool Catholic Herald 1899-1934.
We hold a number of newspapers on microfilm:
- Bootle Times 1961 to 1965
- Crosby Herald 1961 to 1981 (incomplete)
- Prescot & Huyton Reporter 1961 to June 1979
- Walton Times and North Liverpool Times 1953-1955, 1962-3, 1972-76, 1978 (July-Dec), 1979-June 1980
- West Derby Reporter 1961 to April 1965
- Garston & Woolton Reporter 1888-1920 and Garston and Woolton Weekly News 1913-1950
Guides to newspaper holdings
- Cowley, Ruth - Newsplan: report of the NEWSPLAN project in the NW Region (Sept.1986-Jan.1990) (1990) H686.43 COW
- Liverpool Record Office - List of Liverpool newspapers 1756 to date (kept at Enquiry Desk)
The main source of newspapers relating to Liverpool which are not held here is the British Newspaper Archive. This archive is available via the Digital Library on all library computers, free for all library members.
On our Read Liverpool website, you can access Newsbank which indexes the Daily Post and Echo from 2002 and the Times Digital Archive which has a key word index from 1785 to 1985. You can also access these via the Digital Library.
Liverpool Libraries has a large collection of newspaper cuttings. Some of these are bound and are listed in the catalogue under their subject, for example, housing, war, hospitals. Others have been microfilmed and these include biographical notices and obituaries of Liverpool Worthies 1879-1923 (Eq 330). More recent local cuttings, including a separate series of biographical cuttings, are filed by subject and should be requested at the Enquiry Desk in the Search Room.
There is also a useful series of Town Clerk’s department cuttings books 1867-1967 at 352 CLE/CUT.