How much access to national news would a person living in an English village in 1861 have? When did The Times and The Telegraph start distributing nationally, not just to major towns?

  • 5
    The public houses had newspapers for the patrons to read; they may have been a few days old. Cannot help with the specific question, but I found an article explaining how The Times innovated in 1875 to speed up distribution in cities outside London. (They hired a goods train and had the newspapers assembled on the train during the journey.)
    – AlexP
    Jun 25, 2017 at 16:40
  • 1
    Welcome to the site, Catherine. While not a perfect fit, this question seems remarkably related. Also, your question concerning existing publications is not appropriate for the Worldbuilding SE; you may consider removing it via an edit.
    – Frostfyre
    Jun 25, 2017 at 17:33
  • Have you considered directly contacting those papers ? Note that The Telegraph was only founded in 1855, so in 1861 it's doubtful it would have established a widespread circulation and as a penny daily it would be targeting the mass population in densely packed cities. In 1861 the only real rapid distribution system was the steam train, so I'd be surprised if distribution happened at all outside towns on rail routes. Big towns had local papers which were of importance.
    – StephenG
    Jun 25, 2017 at 19:22
  • It depended on how rich you are. You could subscribe a London newspaper from any place where mail was available, even on the other side of the globe. Of course you would get the news with corresponding delay. But in a village in England you would probably receive it within a day or two.
    – Alex
    Jun 26, 2017 at 7:37
  • 1
    Those steam trains moved mail across Britain quite efficiently. To the tune of two postal deliveries a day in large towns, with 'conversations' on a daily basis by mail considered normal.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 27, 2017 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


Here is a timeline of British Press developments that may be helpful.

The Daily Telegraph was launched in 1855, and became a "London" morning paper in the same year.

Note, also, that the stamp tax was abolished in 1855, and the paper duty in 1861; these had formerly been deterrents to cheap, "mass" newspapers.

It is striking that the Irish Daily was launched in 1859, the first Welsh newspaper in 1861, and the South Wales Daily in 1872. Also, the National Press Association was formed in 1868.

Thus, I infer that British newspapers went "national" during the 1860s. They probably weren't available in "villages" in 1861 but it wasn't too long afterward.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.