The Frith archive was founded by Francis Frith, the pioneer Victorian photographer, in 1860 and today contains over 365,000 photographs of some 7,000 towns and villages throughout Britain. Taken between 1860 and 1970 these form a topographical record of Britain without equal and is recognised as probably the only photographic collection of national importance in private hands in Britain today.
The importance of the Frith archive is as a topographical and social record. It provides an amazingly detailed visual record of over 7,000 towns and villages, as well as illustrating the enormous social and structural changes which have taken place in Britain since 1860. Whilst some of the photographs are undoubtedly artistically outstanding, the real value of the archive lies in its scale. There is no other archive which can illustrate this period of British history so extensively or to such a high quality.