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We are one of the largest photographic archives in the country, with over nine million photographs documenting the historic environment of England. Our photographs also show many other aspects of life over the last 150 years, from education and employment to leisure and transport.

Historic collections

Our photographs date from the 1850s onwards. Some of the highlights include:

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Historic collections

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Archive photograph of Blackpool Tower and sea front from the sea with the Big Wheel in the background
  • Archive photograph of Tower Bridge in the mist viewed from riverside gantries, looking east along the River Thames
  • Archive photograph showing the hull of the ship towering over people on the foreshore of the River Thames

Aerial photography

We have oblique and vertical aerial photography covering every corner of the country. Our holdings include major collections taken by the RAF and the Ordnance Survey, alongside the work of Aerofilms Ltd. 

Survey photography

Over the past 90 years photographers from the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) and English Heritage have recorded countless historic buildings and monuments. These range from tiny cottages and workers' houses to power stations and tower blocks.

Specialist collections

We also hold many collections created by researchers and photographers who were particularly interested in a specific topic or theme. These range from windmills, railway stations and stationary steam engines to medieval stained glass and postcards of public parks and gardens.

These include colour photographs of England's listed buildings created by the Images of England project.

Preserving collections

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Member of staff conserving a glass plate negative
  • Member of staff using flat-bed scanner
  • Racks of archive shelves filled with boxes holding negatives
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An antique dial phone on a shelf
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