There are literally billions of pages of newspaper archives available online. Only a small portion of them are from the UK, and a still smaller portion can be viewed for free. Nonetheless, the few free archives that are available from England, Scotland and Ireland are a rich source of history writ large and small.
Here are the best online free newspaper archives for the UK:
UK Gazettes offers a bit of the unexpected…more than 350 years of the official government newspaper from London, Belfast and Edinburgh. The Advanced Search feature allows you to select historical events, such as World War I or II, the Great Fire of London (1666), the Death of Napoleon (1821), and famous battles from Trafalgar (1805) to the Falklands (1982).
British Newspapers 1800-1900, is a subscription archive from the British Library, but it contains two free titles: Penny Illustrated (1861-1913) and The Graphic (1870-1900). These are surprisingly rich resources, and worth an explore.
British Library Newspaper Archive is a pretty strange smattering of late 19th century and early 20th century newspapers. Coverage is very intermittent, and the search interface can only be called painful. Includes some issues of the Manchester Guardian, News of the World, and a few others.
The Guardian. Awkward searching (what is it with you Brits?), but free content for the 20th century.
NCSE: Nineteenth Century Serials Edition This is a pretty new and pretty significant addition to UK online archives, both newspapers and magazines, all available at no cost. Includes the Monthly Repository (1806-1837) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Northern Star (1838-1852), Leader (1850-1860), English Woman’s Journal (1858-1864), Tomahawk (1867-1870). and Publishers’ Circular (1880-1890).
The Internet Library of Early Journals isn’t exactly a newspaper archive, but it’s worth noting just the same. There are three publications from the 18th century: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Gentleman’s Magazine, and The Annual Register, along with another three from the 19th century, including Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Good stuff.
Need research? Quezi's researchers can answer your questions at uclue.com