These vintage postcards show the damage caused by one of the most famous natural disasters in Colchester’s history.

More than 130 years ago many of the buildings in the town and surrounding villages and smaller towns were affected in what is now known as the Colchester Earthquake.

Almost every building in Wivenhoe and Abberton, and some in other towns and villages reaching as far as Ipswich, was damaged in some way when the earthquake occurred on the morning of April 22, 1884.

It is thought to be the most destructive example of an earthquake to have hit Britain in at least the past 400 years, damaging around 1,250 buildings.

The postcards show the significant damage to the medieval church in Langenhoe, where masonry fell off the tower into the roof of the nave and chancel, while other buildings affected included the Bell pub in Old Heath.

It is not clear how many people were killed but it could have been as many as five, including a child.

Picture postcards have been popular in the UK since the early 1900s when they began to be used by people of all walks of life as a cheap and easy form of communication.

With the practice of sending them now dwindling due to modern technology it is still one of the fewways major historical incidents can be visually recalled.

These were among those sent by well-known North Essex businessman Fred Fitch and his wife Florence in the early 1900s.

Fred founded Express Cycles, in Marks Tey, was known for making and selling radios when they were first introduced to the market and ran his own successful photography business.

Many of the cards have been used and still have the pencil written messages on the back.