More than 16,000 images from one of the earliest and most significant collections of aerial photography of the UK have been made freely accessible online to the public for the first time.
The Britain from Above website is launched today – 25 June 2012 – by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Wales. It 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 Aerofilms Collection embodies all that is exciting about aerial photography. Many shots were taken in the early days of aviation by ex-First World War pilots, from extremely low altitudes, a technique which was very dangerous. It shows just how far their pilots were willing to go for a great photograph.
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.
The Britain from Above website features a high degree of interactivity and is designed to encourage wide public participation. Users can download images, customise their own themed photo galleries, share personal memories, and add information to enrich the understanding for each of the images. They are also invited to identity the locations of a number of “mystery” images that have left the experts stumped.
The Aerofilms Collection was acquired for the nation in 2007 when the company was facing financial difficulties. With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Foyle Foundation, English Heritage and the Royal Commissions in Scotland and Wales embarked on a programme to conserve, catalogue and digitise the collection and make it freely available online.
The number of images available to view on the website will continue to grow, and by 2014, some 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 will be visible online.
Here are a few example images from the collection. Click them to learn more.
|Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder||Queen Mary, River Clyde||Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens||St. Paul's Cathedral, London|