The most accurate and effective way to trace your UK family history back over the last 160 years
is by getting copies of birth certificates (which gives parents names and ages, plus location) and marriage certificates, (get wife's maiden name, ages and both father's names and occupations/locations).
Records go back as far as 1837 and some of this information (indexes at least) is now available on line at <http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/cgi/search.pl>. You can order copy certificates through that site or for less money (about £8) from your county records office or through the family records centre in London (well worth a
visit!) - <http://www.familyrecords.gov.uk/>.
To help get more information about your line, it is recommended that you use census information
in conjunction with birth/marriage certificates - the 1901 Census is now on line at www.pro.gov.uk <http://www.pro.gov.uk> and
you can get summary information for free there, more if you pay. The 1881 Census is available on line at www.familysearch.org <http://www.familysearch.org> (Mormon Church site), along with a huge amount of other ancestry information (mostly accurate, but not always!) - it is the biggest resource on the web. There is also further useful
information in County Records Offices and main libraries, (for example, my local library in Harrogate has 1881 census on fiche for the entire county of Yorkshire and the 1841/51/61/71/91 census on
microfilm for the town and surrounding villages). See <http://www.familia.org.uk/textindex.html> for more information.
Local family history societies can also be a useful source of information, as they generally have
projects to compile census and church records information which they will supply for a small fee. Check out <http://www.ffhs.org.uk/> to find out
more about over 220 societies.
Another excellent resource is GENUKI <http://www.genuki.org.uk/> - which is particularly useful for local /geographic history, which you will find is very relevant as you go further back in time! On the subject of geography, www.old-maps.co.uk
<http://www.old-maps.co.uk> allows you to view detailed on-line maps going back to the 1850s covering most of the UK.
This list is not exhaustive, but I believe that it covers the most useful resources.