Old pictures of Essex released

PUBLISHED: 18:05 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:34 31 May 2010

Saffron Walden's Market Place in 1932

Saffron Walden's Market Place in 1932

A SELECTION of pictures of Saffron Walden, Thaxted, Newport and Stansted Mountfitchet during the 20th century has just been released. The images were taken by Frith & Co, the company set up by Victorian photographer Francis Frith who wanted to photograph

A SELECTION of pictures of Saffron Walden, Thaxted, Newport and Stansted Mountfitchet during the 20th century has just been released.

The images were taken by Frith & Co, the company set up by Victorian photographer Francis Frith who wanted to photograph all the cities, towns and villages in Britain.

Some of the photographs are more than 100 years old and yet the towns and villages shown in the black and white prints are easily recognisable as the modern-day settlements they would become.

Julia Skinner from The Francis Frith Collection said: "For 30 years Francis Frith travelled around the country with his heavy, cumbersome equipment, either by train or by pony and trap, photographing as many locations as he could as part of his great project."

Eventually Frith recruited a team of photographers and his company grew into one of the major postcard producers of the 20th century.

"Essex is particularly well-represented in the Frith collection," said Ms Skinner. "There are evocative views of rural landscapes, as well as fascinating images of bustling market towns and sleepy villages blissfully empty of motorised traffic."

The technological age has made the Francis Frith archive available to everyone and there are more than 120,000 images available to view on the collection website. The pictures are searchable by postcode.

"Thousands of individual views can now be called up on-screen within seconds, enabling people to revisit the streets of their ancestral home town, or view places in Britain where they grew up, lived, worked, and married," said Ms Skinner.

"Immensely successful in Frith's own era, the archive is now entering a new phase of popularity, a century and more on."

Francis Frith died in 1898, but the business he created continued until 1970. By the time it closed the Frith archive contained over 360,000 images of 7000 cities, towns and villages.

The pictures have been released to promote the Francis Frith Collection book sale. For more information about the sale and to view the collection visit www.francisfrith.com.

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