EXPLORE York has redesigned the website for its archive of historical images of York. It is now much easier to find, to search - and even to buy images.

Archivists have amassed an archive of thousands of historical images of York. Some - such as health department photos of the York slums taken before demolition schemes - come from city council records. Others were part of collections held by local historians such as the late and much-missed Hugh Murray. Yet more have been supplied by ordinary York people who had photographs they thought were worth preserving.

Between them, the photographs provide an unrivalled window onto York's past - of the city's people, places and events of the past 100 years and more.

The new website - known simply as Explore York Images - allows you to browse through these photographs at will.

They're organised into categories such as people, places and events. But there's also a search window which you can use to find photographs of interest to you. Simply enter the name of your street or district, of an event you remember from childhood, or even of a favourite ancestor, relative, or friend, and if there's a photo in the archive, it will appear.

It is also now much easier to buy photos from the archive online, if there is one you want to keep or frame.

It's a great way to spend a happy few hours, especially now that so many of us are shut up at home - and you'll also learn a lot about York's history in the process. Many of the photographs come with informative captions that explain what they show and give some background.

"We’re really pleased with the new modern look and feel for Explore York Images, and hope customers enjoy browsing," said t Laura Yeoman. "The new site is much easier to navigate and purchase images from, and remember that all income generated from sales of our images goes straight back to your library and archive services.’

You can visit the new-look website at images.exploreyork.org.uk/

In the meantime, we carry a selection of images from the archive on these pages today to get you in the mood. They show:

1. Richard 'Dicky' Naylor, last Bellman of York, in about 1871. The photograph was taken when Mr Naylor was 80 years old. He died a year later on March 9, 1872, aged 81.

Born in Garforth, near Leeds, Dicky moved to York as a child. He was an apprentice journeyman shoemaker and was admitted to the Freedom of the City in 1812. He married Mary Jennings who died in October 1858. He was also a sedan chair carrier and a fishmonger - he opened a fish shop in Coppergate for a time. As the Corporation Bellman he was paid £2 a year and his uniform cost the city £8 10s (£8.50). Apparently whenever he got a new uniform he invariably reminded the Corporation that he preferred the 18th century cocked hat. The manager of the Theatre Royal engaged him to cry the plays and players. This gave him both a fee and a free pass to all the performances ...which he apparently enjoyed greatly

2. A boy scout holding back the crowds on the corner of St Helen's Square and Coney Street during a visit by King Edward VIII in May 1923

3. The brush-making department in the workshops for the blind at the School for the Blind (now King's Manor) in the 1920s. These adult workers received wages for attending the 'out-workers' department

4. Stone masons in the 1920s. They are probably working on the restoration of the central tower of York Minster. The man at the rear may be Fred Smith who was a stone mason at this time

5. A man and woman on the roof of York Minster in the early 1900s

6. The Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI and mother of our resent day Queen) talking to a patient at the County Hospital in York on June 24, 1925.

Stephen Lewis