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Bristol's earliest papers were just a single sheet with news from London and Europe. They were popular with local merchants eager for information affecting their businesses.

Despite heavy taxation on sales and advertising, papers grew in size and scope. The 18th and 19th centuries saw dozens of different titles in Bristol at various times. They usually sold in neighbouring counties as well, and carried local and national news.

Although not everyone could read, these papers were often successful. The local press also had no competition from national daily papers until Fleet Street started using trains to carry papers to the provinces in the late 1800s.

Compulsory elementary schooling meant that by 1900 almost all Bristolians could read, so sales of cheap newspapers, produced on ever-improving presses, boomed.

The most important new title of the 20th century was the Evening Post, launched in 1932 by Bristol businessmen, and supported by hundreds of Bristolian shareholders. It billed itself as "the paper all Bristol asked for and helped to create."

Sales of local and regional papers are now declining across the country, but Bristol's main daily, the Post, still sells around tens of thousands of copies a day and has a popular website (www.thisisbristol.co.uk).

Local papers are adapting to the 21st century with websites carrying not just words and pictures, but video and instant reader comments as well. Other people have launched internet-only local news services, notably www.bristol247.com

The future might see the end of print, but people will still want local news.

Bristol's Papers Edit

Bristol has a far longer history of newspaper publishing than most cities. Here are just a few milestones.

1702: Bristol printer William Bonny starts the Bristol Post Boy. A 1704 edition at the Bristol reference library is the oldest example of a British provincial paper still in existence.

1715: Samuel Farley's Bristol Post Man is the first of many papers published by Farley family.

1752: Felix Farley's Bristol Journal launched. Farley uses it to advertise his quack medicine business.

1757: Sarah Farley becomes first Bristol newspaper editor to be sued for libel.

1790: Bristol Mercury launched.

1827: James Acland publishes his short-lived Bristolian paper accusing council of corruption. The Council spends huge sums of money prosecuting him for libel.

1839: Joseph Leech launches Bristol Times using £500 from his father; he had asked for his inheritance in advance.

1852: Bristol papers run first stories sent from London by electric telegraph.

1858: Western Daily Press becomes Bristol's first daily paper.

1877: Bristol Evening News is city's first evening paper.

1929: Bristol Evening World launched by Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere, starting a bitter circulation war.

1932: Evening Post launched in opposition to Evening World.

1939: Bristol United Press formed, amalgamating Evening World and Evening Post.

1940-41: On some mornings during the Blitz, Bristol papers are just typewritten sheets.

1962: Evening World merges with Evening Post.

1974: Post & Press building on Temple Way opened.

1981: Bristol United Press launches Observer series of free weekly papers.

1996: Venue magazine is first Bristol publication to start a website; www.venue.co.uk

2000: Bristol United Press taken over by Northcliffe Newspaper Group.

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