Teesdale Mercury Archive

Information for Schools


What is the Teesdale Mercury Archive?

The Teesdale Mercury, published in the small market town ofBarnardCastleinCountyDurham, is one of the oldest surviving independent local newspapers inBritain.

For more than fifty years it has reported on everyday life in Teesdale as well as chronicling the impact of national and international events on its people.

From local births, marriages and deaths to the horrors of two world wars, its pages are a uniquely important historical record of the dale over a century and a half.

Collections of the paper exist in museums, but these are incomplete, damaged and not readily available to the public. It was this that prompted local historians to set up the Teesdale Mercury Archive Project.

The Teesdale Mercury Archive Project has made the first hundred years of the Teesdale Mercury available online. Every available page of the newspaper from its first edition in 1855 to the 1950s is now freely accessible on a text searchable website.

There are case studies, a travelling exhibition and visiting speakers available to groups interested in learning more.. In addition, an educational booklet (which includes guidance on using the website for schools, printable educational resources and help on how to research topics commonly used in schools) is in preparation and will be available soon, free of charge.

How can it be used in schools?

Teachers will be able to use the online searchable archive to research and plan lessons based on the experiences of local people over the last hundred years, making history relevant to local children and their communities. There are also some pre-prepared resources on popular topics which teachers can use straight away.

Older KS2 children will be able to carry out simple searches using given search criteria to discover items of interest for themselves.

Older student s will be able to browse newspapers to support their studies using the suggested ideas for topic areas to help them find relevant pages as well as just browsing for themselves.

What topic areas might it help with?

  • WW1  - the national impact and how life in Teesdale and Teesdale people were affected
  • WW2 – The impact of War on the lives and people of Teesdale
  • Entertainment – Barnard Castle Meet from its beginnings to modern times.
  • The Workhouse - there are reports from the Teesdale Board of Guardians which give insights into the lives of the workhouse inmates as well as the role of the wealthy in the area in supporting the workhouse.
  • Victorian Life – the adverts for positions of work, the adverts for products, the entertainments advertised and the reports of events give a clear indication of what life was like in Victorian Barnard Castle.

These are just some popular areas for research but there are many more potential study areas.