New pages from the Surrey Advertiser join The Archive | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week we have added 114,380 new pages to the Archive. We have added pages to seven of our existing titles, with updates to our special cinema title The Bioscope, three of our Irish titles the Belfast Telegraph, the Wexford People and the Dublin Evening Telegraph, as well as updates to the Western Mail and the Liverpool Echo.

We have also added 20,892 new pages to the Surrey Advertiser, covering the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. In the Victorian period, the county of Surrey was home to some important domestic innovations. These innovations are discoverable within the pages of the Surrey Advertiser, which not only offers a record of how these changes were implemented, but also shows the opinions of local people at the time regarding such transitions.

Surrey Advertiser | 12 January 1878

The small town of Godalming, approximately thirty miles outside of London, became in 1881 the first town in the world to have a public electricity supply. The town’s street lights were lit by a current generated by a waterwheel located at Westbrook Mills, and an article from the 1st October 1881 describes how ‘The lighting has so far been most satisfactory, eliciting the high praise of the hundreds of persons who have nightly congregated on the street.’

This change to electric power, despite being a global first, was not exactly fueled by a quest for innovation. The primary reason behind the change was that the contract with the gas company for the streetlights had terminated, and ‘it was essential some new contract be made.’ Indeed, it was estimated that electricity would be 29% cheaper than gas. However, the town of Godalming was lauded in the national press, ‘fully deserving of the honourable position therein accorded to it.’

The Graphic | 12 November 1881

A slightly more controversial first was the building of United Kingdom’s first crematorium in the town of Woking in 1878. With ever increasing pressure being placed on the country’s burial grounds, resulting in unsanitary conditions, a new solution was needed: cremation. However, many objected on religious grounds, and the Surrey town of Woking became the epicentre of this controversial debate.

One ‘anti-cremationist’ writes how ‘cremation has a very horrifying sound to people in general of all classes.’  However, another correspondent to the paper observes ‘the churchyards in many instances are in a most horrible condition through overcrowding, and the cemeteries are rapidly filling.’ This correspondent compares the outcry in Woking to that of when railways were first introduced, ‘the folly of which is now seen.’

Both sides of the argument were fully represented in the Surrey AdvertiserHowever, cremation was not legalised until 1884, and so the Woking Crematorium stood empty for some time. The first official cremation took place there on 26 March 1885, the deceased being Mrs Jeannette C Pickersgill, a well-known figure in literary and scientific circles.


This week we have updated one of our recently added titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.

Years Added
Surrey Advertiser 1875, 1878-1888, 1890-1894, 1896-1897, 1899-1903, 1912-1913, 1929, 1931-1933
Belfast Telegraph 1963-1966
Wexford People 1994-1996, 1998-2004
The Bioscope 1909, 1914-1917
Dublin Evening Telegraph 1907
Western Mail 1928-1932
Liverpool Echo 1961

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You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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