The British Library has gone live with its local and regional newspaper archive, giving surfers access to 4 million web pages of print media from a timespan of more than 300 years.

The British Newspaper Archive (, which was previously only viewable in hard copy form at the British Library newspaper depository in Colindale, North London has 65 million articles from local rags dating back to 1700.

The plan, which will take 10 years in total to achieve, is to get 650 million articles online across 40 million web pages by 2020.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said: "The British Newspaper Archive is a rich and hugely exciting resource, packed with historical detail.

"It’s a great example of the public and private sectors collaborating to deliver something that neither party could have delivered by themselves. I searched for my own constituency of Wantage and within seconds had 42,000 results – an indication of the breadth and variety of material featured.

"I’m delighted that the British Library and Brightsolid are working together to transform access to the nation’s published memory."

Access to the articles costs £6.95 for 48 hours, £29.95 for 30 days or £79.95 for a year. Once you've coughed up you can download a PDF of your required page. Access at the British Library is free.