Britain from Above

A new website “Britain from Above” launched by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Wales, features some of the oldest and most valuable images of the Aerofilms Collection, a unique and important archive of over 1 million aerial photographs taken between 1919 and 2006.

The photographs featuring on the website date from 1919 to 1953, and have gone through a painstaking process of conservation and cataloguing. Due to their age and fragility, many of the earliest plate glass negatives were close to being lost forever.

You can browse this extensive collection which includes for example this photo of Grey’s Monument in Newcastle in 1927.

Highlights from the collection include: the first boxing match at Wembley Stadium in 1924; the Thames Flood of 1947 in which over 100,000 properties were affected; crowds on the banks of the River Clyde watching the first voyage of the newly-built RMS Queen Mary in 1936; and a scene of Rhondda Fawr, one of the largest mining valleys in southern Wales.

And, much closer to home, have a look at this 1927 image of St Mary’s Island.

These fascinating glimpses of how things looked 80+ years ago are a reminder that perhaps we should pause in our hurried pursuit of the next great competition image and capture a few  simple record shots of where we live today.

The website has a useful map feature showing the location of available images.

The website is a little slow when I looked this morning- perhaps due to an initial high volume of traffic – but it’s well worth a look.                                          Gary


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