THE Hexham Courant is approaching a milestone anniversary.

January 7 1871 marked the first time the paper was sold as a weekly, having experimented with a bi-weekly formula for the previous three years.

The Courant was founded in 1864 as a weekly publication, but from 1867 until the final edition of 1870 two copies were produced - one on a Saturday, and one on a Tuesday to coincide with market day.

In a message to readers and subscribers, a Courant correspondent wrote that the paper would be issued on Saturdays in a "greatly improved format."

They explained that the reason for adopting the weekly model was that circulation had more than doubled in the three years since the bi-weekly edition was launched - but the team wanted to give the "numerous readers" of the Courant a more continued and unbroken record of events.

Reports in the paper were often fragmented over the two editions due to the way information was gathered in the late 1860s.

It was also hoped that, by producing just one copy a week, the paper would reach more of the villages and hamlets that weren't bless with railway connectivity - or even "the primitive advantages of a carrier's cart."

In addition, the layout of the newspaper was changed to provide an additional six columns of news.

Unsurprisingly, the Courant in the late 1800s was unrecognisable from the one produced today. The front page was dedicated almost entirely to advertising, and there were no photographs used - only the occasional illustration for an advert.

News stories were squeezed in small font into tiny columns, and the paper even featured a "Local Gossip" section.

The Courant covered events from across the North and indeed the globe.

The volumes give considerable coverage to the Franco-Prussian war that raged from 1870 to 1871, and the Courant even had a London office on Fleet Street!

However, in order to appease the loyal agricultural readers, a special market edition was to be published at noon on Tuesdays, consisting of the latest markets and other important telegraphic news.

The Tuesday edition was made available for free at the Courant's office, then on Market Place.

The correspondent finished: "We hopefully anticipate continuance of that support which has enabled the proprietors to place the Courant in the proud pre-eminence it now enjoys in this district, assuring them that our best endeavours shall be devoted to yet further improve this popular organ of public opinion."