Our Photographic Collections


We hold nationally important collections of photographs which document the historic environment of England. They also illuminate many other aspects of national life over the last 150 years from education and employment, to leisure and transport.

Nearly half a million images can be seen online or if you have a query about our holdings please contact Archive Services.

Blackpool, Lancashire

Blackpool, Lancashire, taken between 1894 and 1910 and collected by W and Co. Ref:OP00480
© English Heritage

Historic collections

We hold a diverse range of photographic collections dating from the 1850s onwards. These include country house albums by anonymous amateurs; the work of famous photographers such as Roger Fenton and Bill Brandt; pioneering architectural photographers such as Bedford Lemere & Co; commercial photographers like Miller and Harris, John Gay and Eric de Mare; and the Thames Valley views of Henry Taunt.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, taken before 1964 by John Gay. Ref:AA076902
© English Heritage

Aerial photography


We are the largest public archive of vertical and oblique aerial photography of England. Our holdings show every corner of the country, and include major collections of RAF and Ordnance Survey photography from 1945 onwards.

Together with our acquistion of the Aerofilm Collection covering aerial photography dating from 1919 to 2002, they present a unique overview of England and how it's changed during the 20th century.

Ordnance Survey aerial photograph

Site of Lakeside retail park and shopping centre in West Thurrock, taken on 11 April 1991.
© Crown copyright. Ordnance Survey

Survey photography


Over the past 90 years the photographers of 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


Amongst our holdings are 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. Together they provide a wealth of detailed information on the history which surrounds us all.