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Nostalgia at its Best!

nos-tal-gia [no-stal-juh]

Definition - A wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

Origin - Nostalgia is composed of nostos which is derived from the ancient root nes-, meaning "return home, homecoming" and the suffix algia is from algos, meaning "pain".

 Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. 
- Peter De Vries

Cynics among us may claim British Nostalgia is a utopian notion of our society and culture, a sense of Britishness brimming with sentimental overtones. But surely Nostalgia means more to us than just cliched cultural symbols like the thatched cottage, the country inn, the cup of tea and Sunday roast?

While nostalgia can be difficult to articulate, to all of us it is deeply meaningful and something that we may treasure. Here at Frith, we subscribe to a healthy dose of Nostalgia every day, and thoroughly recommend it! - Here's why...

Why is Nostalgia so important to us right now?

According to consumer psychologist Peter Cooper, our increasing interest in Nostalgia is a reaction to the uncertainties in life as we try to hold on to something which represents, in however an idealised way, stability and tradition. He says "people are holding on to things which remind them of the past to try to reduce the risks of the environment and get some sort of control".

Frith Nostalgia

Nostalgia - good for the soul

We know the "Good Old Days" weren't always so great, but that is all part of Nostalgia - the licence we share to gloss over the difficulties and tribulations of decades gone by with our rose-tinted spectacles firmly in place.

And whilst it may not be 100% healthy to dwell on a melancholic and often skewed version of the past, in the spirit of escapism, nostalgia is undeniably good for the soul. Taking time out from our busy lives to reconnect with what is truly important to us, strengthening our memories so they are there to comfort us when we need them, is essential to our soul's well-being.

Frith and Nostalgia

The Francis Frith Collection provides a valuable record of the physical and social changes that have taken place in the towns, villages and countryside of Britain between 1860 and 1970. The unique archive includes photographs taken of streets, buildings and scenic views from identical or closely related viewpoint at time intervals.

Frith's photographs marry perfectly with our natural yearning for Nostalgia. Their fine detail and quality strengthen memories and important moments that might otherwise begin to fade in our own minds. A picture of a street in your home town, can trigger memories of childhood that are pleasant to recall. The particular street depicted may not have been particularly important to you but it will still act as a catalyst to memories associated with living in that town. Here at Frith, we call this the roots concept.

"Frithís photographs still manage to extract a wistful longing from their viewers. His talent for translating visual ingredients into nostalgic shorthand was a formula that ensured the success of his trade...By locating the archaic and the modern in the one image, Frith frames nostalgia within the fast pace of an ever-changing world." (Helen Kane,

Here on the Frith website you can immerse yourself in Nostalgia at its best - historic photos, old maps, personal memories and text for over 30,000 places across the UK, including your own area. In addition to the photos and maps for which Frith is renowned, over 7m words of commissioned text of publication quality and thousands of personal memories contributed by Frith website visitors are available.

Building Nostalgia for future generations - the Frith Memories Community

The Frith Memories Community is an online forum for us all to reminisce and indulge in Nostalgia. Discover an irresistible mix of personal stories and recollections that affectionately reveal the detail of everyday life in Britain. If any of Frith's photographs bring back memories for you, why not add them to the site and allow others to enjoy and reminisce as well. Share your own unique insight into a local photo or town - start today!

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