Thousands of historic photographs of Britain go online

Tower bridge under construction in 1890 Credit: Francis Frith Collection/Ancestry/PA Wire

Historic photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries have been published online, featuring images of thousands of cities, towns and villages from across the UK.

Family history website Ancestry said many of the 250,000 photographs were being made publicly available for the first time.

View of Tower Bridge during the 2012 Olympics Credit: George Rex/Flickr

Taken from the Francis Frith Collection, they include an 1890 black-and-white photograph of London's Tower Bridge being built, an 1897 picture of Queen Victoria and an 1850 shot of a house in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare is believed to have been born.

Undated historic image of house in Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born. Credit: Francis Frith Collection/Ancestry/PA Wire
Photograph of the Shakespeare's place of birth in 2014. Credit: PA

Miriam Silverman, content manager at Ancestry, said: "From royal celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee, to the construction of the most iconic bridge in the UK and even a mummy, this collection provides photographic insight into 150 years' worth of history, bringing a bygone era back to life."

Founded by Francis Frith in 1860, the company published over 300,000 photographs which were sold to tourists as souvenirs, and later as postcards. Many images from that collection are now searchable online via Ancestry.

Male prisoners entering Dartmoor prison in 1890 Credit: Francis Frith Collection/Ancestry/PA Wire
Entrance to Dartmoor prison in 2008 Credit: PA

The collection is free to search until the end of August.