Britain from Above Survey

Whether you’re a first-time browser or regular user or contributor to the Britain from Above site, we’re really keen to find out what you’re using the site for and your overall experience of the site. Please help us in this research by filling out this survey which should take around 10 - 15 minutes to complete.

As a thank you for your time you’ll be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a cash prize of £100.


Memories of Miners and Dainty Dinahs: Stories from the North East now available on the website

Britain from Above is proud to present a kaleidoscope of digital stories showcasing local history gems produced by members of five community groups who took part in the North East community projects in 2012 and 2013.

Local history tutor Dr Dorothy Hamilton worked with communities in Gateshead and County Durham, delving into memories of the area's proud mining heritage, tracing changes to the places at which most of them have spent all their lives and sharing their findings in these digital stories.

Click on the links below to watch extracts of their work.

Stories by residents of Brandon, both young and old, and members of the Hamsteels Local History group

Stories by members of the Pelton Fell Local History group

Image descriptions, local history research and memories by users of Gateshead Sight Service, a support organisation for the partially sighted 

We hope you enjoy them!

The Britain from Above Activity Team



In the Margins: Place and Memory in the Britain from Above Project

In the Margins: Place and Memory in the Britain from Above Project (The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Wednesday 23 April, 6pm-7:30pm)

Thousands of volunteers have contributed to the Britain from Above project, investigating the Aerofilms Collection of historic aerial photography.

Brian Wilkinson, Britain from Above Activity Officer for Scotland, will discuss what users have revealed about the places and scenes captured in the images, highlighting some of the many stories and hidden details which have come to light.

Please book your spot online!




Britain from Above at the Lighthouse, Glasgow

Come join us at The Lighthouse in Glasgow for some exciting Britain from Above Events!

Britain From Above: Records of the First World War in Aerofilms Images (Wednesday 19 March, 6pm - 8pm)

Allan Kilpatrick presents a talk focussing on the use of Aerofilms images in recording the impact of the First World War.

Britain from Above Creative Saturdays

Join us on Saturdays in March and April for free creative workshops inspired by the Britain from Above: Scotland’s Industrial Might exhibition. Spaces are limited please book in advance.

Drawing Workshop (Saturday 29 March, 11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm) Click here to book.

Glass Etching Workshop (Saturday 5 April, 11am - 5pm) Click here to book.

Felting Workshop (Saturday 12 April, 11am - 3pm) Click here to book.

Creative Writing Lunchtime Bites (Fridays, 12:30pm-1pm, 28 March to 25 April 2014)

Explore short story and poetry writing techniques during these free, 30 minute, bite-sized masterclasses. Spark your creativity each week with an image from the Britain from Above: Scotland’s Industrial Might exhibition. Sessions will be lead by creative writers Emily Dodd and Tawona Sithole. Spaces are limited so please book in advance!



Britain from Above workshops at the Museum of Edinburgh

Come join us at the Museum of Edinburgh for some FREE family workshops over the Easter Holidays!

Bird’s Eye View (Saturday 5 April, 10.30am – 12.30pm, 1.30pm – 3.30pm)

Imagine your city from above and create a magical collage with hovering birds and aeroplanes using some spectacular aerial photographs of Edinburgh from Britain from Above’s collection- with artist Tessa Asquith-Lamb. Book in advance through the Museum of Edinburgh.

Brilliant Biplanes (Saturday 12 April, 1.30pm – 3.30pm)

The aerial photographs seen in ‘Edinburgh from Above’ were taken from biplanes, the first aircraft to fly. Come along to this workshop and create your own miniature biplane out of colourful card.

My Model City (Saturday 19 April, 10.30am – 12.30pm, 1.30pm – 3.30pm)

Create a tiny clay relief model of the city and add your favourite landmarks, trees, and rivers- with artist Tessa Asquith-Lamb. Book in Advance through the Museum of Edinburgh.

For more information visit the Museum of Edinburgh website, or call 0131 529 4143.



The Aerofilms exhibitions

The first in a series of exhibitions showcasing material from the Aerofilms collection has now opened to the public:

Museum of Edinburgh (1 February – 26 April 2014)

The first of our exhibitions to open is at the Museum of Edinburgh. This exhibition explores material from the Aerofilms collection, and features a series of compelling aerial photographs which capture dramatic changes to the Edinburgh cityscape over the twentieth century. These images provide unique visual references into our social and industrial history. Further details can be found on the Museum of Edinburgh’s website.

The Lighthouse, Glasgow (14 February – 27 April 2014)

Our other Scottish exhibition is being held at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. This exhibition is entitled ‘Britain from Above - Scotland’s Industrial Might’. Drawing on many rare and previously unseen aerial images, this exhibition traces the histories of factories, shipyards, mills, ironworks and their surrounding communities over three decades, from 1919 to 1953. Industries are shown operating at peak and also in decline, as the ‘bird’s eye view’ tracks the impact of social, political and economic change on the urban fabric of Scotland, from the Great Depression to reconstruction in the aftermath of the Second World War. While many buildings are now gone, they live on in the memories of workers and their families - the economic powerhouse of the past is the heritage of today. Further information can be found here.

RAF Museum, Hendon (22 February 2014 – 31 March 2015)

Aerofilms’ story begins at Hendon, an important centre for early aviation in Britain. The RAF Museum stands on the edge of the former London Aerodrome established by Claude Grahame-White in 1911. With Grahame-White’s connection to Hendon it was natural that he would later base his new business - Aerofilms Ltd – here in 1919.

Spurred on by First World War advances in aeroplane engineering and aerial reconnaissance, Aerofilms’ founders (Grahame-White and Francis Lewis Wills) spotted an opportunity to make a business out of aerial photography. With £3,000 capital and hired aeroplanes, Aerofilms Ltd was established in a suite at the London Flying Club on the London Aerodrome site, developing glass plate negatives in an adjoining bathroom. It was a new, unique venture – untried, untested, exciting and dangerous.

The exhibition will showcase Aerofilms’ unique aerial archive as well as its early years at Hendon and its role in the Second World War. Aerofilms’ commercial work was interrupted by the Second World War. In May 1940 Aerofilms was requisitioned by the Air Ministry, the firm’s aerial interpretation skills making an invaluable contribution to the war effort as part of the highly successful Central Interpretation Unit at RAF Medmenham in Buckinghamshire. After the war, Aerofilms once again took to the skies, photographing the rapidly changing face of Britain’s urban centres and rural landscapes.

For more information, visit the RAF Museum website.

Cardiff Airport (21 February – 7 November 2014)

Most appropriately located in a modern busy airport, the Wales Aerofilms exhibition draws on historic aerial images from across Wales. Travellers will encounter breathtaking images from the Aerofilms Collection placed throughout the Airport. These include an image-rich introduction to the Aerofilms Collection, a wide-ranging presentation on Cardiff Then and Now, and iconic Welsh sites, including the Edwardian castles now World Heritage Sites. Where possible period views have been matched with the Royal Commission’s modern aerial photographs to prompt reflection on the meaning and impact of change, place and memory, especially as passengers fly over Wales. In particular, sports enthusiasts will enjoy the unusual views of Cardiff Arms Park.

Further details can be found on the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales website.



“Aerofilms: A History of Britain From Above” Publication date: 20 February 2014

Aerofilms: A History of Britain From Above is scheduled for release on 20 February 2014, to coincide with a major ‘Britain from Above’ exhibition programme running across the UK. This lavishly-illustrated new book is a joint publication between English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Wales.

Aerofilms Ltd was created on 9 May 1919. An unprecedented business venture, the company hoped to marry the still fledgling technology of flight to the discipline of photography by drawing on the skills and experience of First World War air-force veterans. What followed is a distinctively British tale of derring-do. From developing photographic glass plates in a hotel bathroom on the London Aerodrome in Hendon, to producing many thousands of aerial images every year, an untested and eccentric idea became a major commercial operation.

As a result, Aerofilms recorded one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. After surviving the worldwide economic crash of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and serving their country during the Second World War, they were still on hand to help shape the Britain of the future, capturing the major reconstruction projects of the 1940s and 50s. Aerofilms: A History of Britain From Above presents a vivid picture of the nation in the first half of the twentieth century.

Special offer for Britain from Above website users – if you haven’t already, sign up for our e-newsletter and receive a discount code worth 20% off the publication price in the next mailing!



Knit for Britain from Above at the RAF Museum, London, 17th – 21st February

Come and join us at the RAF Museum in Hendon to help to wrap an aircraft in knitting!

We’re looking for new and experienced knitters and crochet enthusiasts to turn a pile of lovely wool into a cosy cover. Whether you’re a knitting expert or looking to learn a new woolly skill, come and join us in a comfortable corner of the RAF Museum to knit patches, pieces, swatches and scarves to wrap around a huge model biplane.

A friendly knitting tutor will be on hand to help so it’s an ideal time to pick up some needles and learn to knit!

The activity is for all ages and will be on from 17th to 21st February between 11am and 4pm. Entry to the RAF Museum and the knitting activity are free.



Doctor Who? What? Where?

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is rapidly approaching and we at Britain from Above believe we’ve got several sites in our collection the Doctor might have visited during his 50 years in time and space. We’d like to join in with us to help us tag, pin and label filming locations for the series over the last half century covering all the stories from both the classic and modern series. We’ve a special group we’d like you to add your finds too and keep an eye on twitter, we’ll be having a little challenge each day for you to test your skills on!

You can find the group here.




Celebrate Christmas with Britain from Above: very last places available

We are delighted to cordially invite you to our Britain from Above Christmas celebrations.

Join us for an opportunity to meet the team and other website users face to face, and celebrate Christmas with mince pies and a busy day of talks and activities inspired by the Aerofilms Collection. There will be an event taking place in each of our Project Partners offices.

The dates and locations are as folllows:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Wales, Aberystwyth Wednesday 20 November. Please contact Natasha Scullion on 01970 621 200 or for further queries or to book a place by Friday 15th November.

English Heritage Archive, Swindon Friday 29 November Please contact Sandra Brauer on 01793 445 024 or for further queries or to book a place for this event by Monday 25th November.

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh Wednesday 4 December Please contact Brian Wilkinson on 0131 65 16 779 or for further queries or to book a place for this event by Monday 25th November.

We would be delighted to welcome you plus one guest.

Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided throughout all events. Parking facilities are available. You will receive more information closer to the date of the event you choose to attend.

We are looking forward to meeting you.



Pencils at the ready? We are celebrating The Big Draw 2013, and we’d love YOU to join us!

If you love Aerofilms images, Edinburgh city, and drawing, this event is for you! We have teamed up with Mark Kirkham, Edinburgh-based sketcher extraordinaire, to deliver an Aerofilms-inspired ‘sketch-crawl’ through Edinburgh!

Join Mark and the Britain from Above team this Friday (18th October) in one of the free sketching workshops we are offering as part of The Big Draw 2013. We’ll start the day with a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at the RCAHMS archive, where you can peruse Aerofilms images, and be inspired by architectural & archaeological drawings from the RCAHMS archival collections.

In the afternoon, we invite you to stroll with us through Edinburgh’s Southside, admire the city’s incredible historic environment, and practice your observation and sketching skills with advice and tips from an expect illustrator.

You don’t need any previous sketching experience to join us! Only a love of drawing, Aerofilms, and Edinburgh ~and warm clothes.

The event is free, but please book your place here:

Mark’s website, with examples of his wonderful illustrations of Edinburgh (and beyond!):

You might also be interested in these free workshops, which we are delivering as part of our Big Draw celebrations:



Scottish architecture aficionado, enthusiastic amateur, or simply up for a challenge? Read on…

Get your detective caps on and help the Activity Team locate examples of Scottish Vernacular Architecture in the Aerofilms collection!

We know you love browsing the collection and discovering incredible content in the Aerofilms images…so how about fine-tuning your research skills and channelling your enthusiasm in aid of the team? Not only will you be providing invaluable support to the work of our colleague Brian (Activity Officer for Scotland), you will also be entered in a draw to win a print of your favourite Aerofilms image!

The Scottish Vernacular Architecture Group defines vernacular architecture as follows:

Vernacular buildings are smaller traditional buildings, which use local materials and methods. They range in scale from huts to tower houses. They are found throughout Scotland - both in town and country. Other examples of vernacular buildings include cottages of miners and fishermen, rural settlements, and tower houses. More info and photos can be found on this site:

Here is what to do:

-Find examples of Scottish Vernacular Architecture on the Britain from Above website.

-Tweet or DM the word ‘Vernacular’ and the image reference to @AboveBritain. You can also email, or simply add the image to our Scottish Vernacular Architecture group. Please send your suggestions NO LATER than 29/09/2013.

-Every suggestion that fits the criteria of vernacular architecture will be entered in a draw to win an Aerofilms print. The winner will be notified no later than 3 weeks after the closing date.


-Remember we are only looking for examples of Scottish Vernacular Architecture, therefore only suggest images with an SPW/SAW reference.

-You might want to start by examining Unlocated images ~ Vernacular Architecture is likely to be found in areas difficult to locate!

-Use our keyword list for inspiration with your search terms.

-Uncertain about an image you’ve found? Suggest it anyway! Your instincts are probably right.

-Talk to each other! There might be a pro or a very inspired amateur among you, and it always helps to bounce ideas off one other.

Brian will be giving a talk at the Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group Conference on October 3rd. He will use the most striking suggestions in his presentation, with grateful acknowledgement of your invaluable assistance.

What are you waiting for? Get researching, see what you find!



Pop-up Survey

We are about to launch a pop-up survey in order to gather your views on the Britain from Above website.

Whether you’re a first-time browser, regular user or a contributor to the Britain from Above site, we’re really keen to find out what you’re using the site for and your overall experience of the site.

The results of the survey will be fed back in to the project and will be used to help further website developments and improvements.

We would be very grateful if you could spare ten to fifteen minutes to complete the survey once you’ve finished browsing the website.

As a thank you for your time you’ll be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a cash prize of £100.

If you would like to take part in the survey you can click the link here, or wait for it to appear on the website in due course.

Thank you very much in advance for your help.



Knit for Britain from Above: Keep knitting!

Due to popular demand, we are extending our Knit for Britain from Above campaign. It proved to be very successful with knitting and history enthusiasts alike during the week-long World Wide Knit in Public Day in early June. Thanks to everybody who has taken part so far and has shared photographs of their beautifully knitted planes in our dedicated website group,

To join the effort and help building Britain from Above’s growing woolly squadron, follow these simple steps:

Step 1.   Knit a plane. Use our pattern or make up your own. The sky is the limit to your creativity … Click here to download the knitting pattern.

Step 2.   Go to to find images near you and pick a favourite spot. Make the most of a sunny moment and head out there with your plane to take a picture. If you like, leave your knitted masterpiece for other people to enjoy.

Step 3.   Upload your picture to our Knit for Britain from Above group on to join the ranks of your fellow yarnstormers.

We also welcome any suggestions as to what we should do with all these lovely planes. So far, ideas included donating them to a children’s home or a charity around Christmas time.



HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY Britain from Above!

41,732 images, 23,672 registered users, 82,147 contributions, 365 days...HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY Britain from Above website!

The Britain from Above website first went live exactly one year ago, on 25 June 2012, with over 16,000 images from the incredible Aerofilms collection. On that first day, 5,000 people registered, and over 1 million webpage views were recorded. We’ve had over 725,000 unique visitors since!

The Britain from Above Team would like to say a big thank you to all our users -because it is thanks to all of you, your comments, memories, and knowledge, that the home we have given to the Aerofilms collection is what it is today.

We are so proud of the online community of users that has formed around the Britain from Above website within the first year of its life. We hope you will continue to enjoy and use our website, and that our community will keep growing and growing.

A brief piece celebrating the Britain from Above website community has been posted on Heritage Calling, the English Heritage blog, and can be found here:

Happy Birthday to you / Happy Birthday to you / Happy Birthday dear Britain from Above website… / Happy Birthday to you!!!!



We've added another 6000 images to the Britain from Above Website!

The latest upload includes photographs taken above London in May 1937, showing the preparations for the coronation of George VI. These include some brilliant images illustrating the army encamped in Kensington Gardens.

Historic properties in the care of English Heritage also feature in this upload. The series of photographs showing the ruins of Egglestone Abbey in County Durham are a particular highlight.

Preparations for the Second World War can be seen in some of these new images. EPW060542 shows the view along Park Lane to Marble Arch in London. In the bottom left hand corner of the photograph you can see air raid shelters being constructed in the grounds of Hyde Park.

We've also included another 52 unidentified images in this batch. You can find them in the Unlocated Gallery. Can you identify the mystery locations?



Knit for Britain from Above

World Wide Knit in Public Day, 8 – 16 June 2013

Britain from Above is recruiting yarnstormers for World Wide Knit in Public Day and needs your knitting support to take off!  

Enlist your very own knitted aeroplane in the woolly squadron taking over Britain’s urban and rural spaces. Showcase your knitting skills and find out more about the history of the place you live in.

Be inspired by our unique collection of stunning aerial photographs of Britain taken between 1919-1953 on Access over 35,000 images of England, Wales and Scotland for free.

Joining in is easy:

Step 1.   Knit a plane. Use our pattern or make up your own. The sky is the limit to your creativity … Click here to download the knitting pattern.

Step 2.   Go to to find images near you and pick a favourite spot. Make the most of a sunny moment and head out there with your plane to take a picture. If you like, leave your knitted masterpiece for other people to enjoy.

Step 3.   Upload your picture to our KNIT for Britain from Above group to join the ranks of your fellow yarnstormers.

Wind up your wool and take off with Britain from Above!  


Britain From Above Book – We Need You

Work is currently underway on a new book showcasing the best images from ‘Britain from Above’.

We want you to add your favourite pics to a new ‘Britain From Above Book’ group on the website, so that you can play a part in putting the book together. Just add your images, give us some information on the places featured in them, and tell us why you think that they should make the final cut.

Aerofilms represents the only major source of aerial photography of Britain in the first half of the twentieth century – unrivalled in breadth and depth. The book will follow the history of the Collection up to and just beyond the Second World War, telling the fascinating story of the eccentric group of entrepreneurs, adventurers and aviation enthusiasts behind the company, who married the still fledgling technology of flight to the discipline of photography.

This group of showmen and pioneering stalwarts manufactured and sold a potent sense of place and identity to the British people. They were ‘Mad Men’ of the air, their photographs building a picture of ‘Brand Britain’ that still resonates today.

The book is scheduled for release in February 2014 – to coincide with a major ‘Britain from Above’ exhibition programme running across the UK – and is a joint publication between English Heritage and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and Wales (RCAHMW).

Your knowledge, enthusiasm and insight will help to bring ‘Britain from Above’ to life – so start adding your images today.


A big thank you!

The images in the site have produced a great deal of excitement as members of the public are able to access and zoom in to these excellent historical aerial images, and contribute information to them.

The team are pleased to report that day one of the launch saw 5,000 registered members and over 1 million webpage views.

Over 16,000 images were available in the site on launch day, and more images will be uploaded over the remaining 2.5 years of the project with all 95,000 images online by the end of 2014.

With the website live and underway, the Britain from Above team looks forward to the remainder of the project which will include various outreach activities over the coming years.

Once again a big thank you to those who visited the site, registered and are contributing information to the images. We are confident that this will add immensely to the Aerofilms images and the quality of the record.

- the Britain from Above team


Britain From Above launches

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, Clydebank. Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, 1920 St Paul's Cathedral, London, 1921
Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder  Queen Mary, River Clyde     Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens  St. Paul's Cathedral, London


Help reminder...

Video guides for the help are currently being created and will be added to the help page shortly. Until then you can use the textual guidance on how to make various types of contributions, namely comments and images, editing the wiki, adding keywords, annotating the image (adding a pin), and adding an Aerofilms image to a group.

We look forward to your contributions which will help all users to know more about these fantastic aerial images.


Welcome Britain from Above volunteers!

The Britain from Above team thank you for your participation in testing and adding information to the site.  We encourage you to create a profiles, create and join groups and contribute infomation to the Aerofilms images. 

Please use the help page to find guidance on how to add comments and images, keyword tags, and contribute to the wiki of an Aerofilms image. 

Under the menu item Galleries you will find a group of images that are Unidentified.  These Aerofilms images have no official location.  If you know the location represented in one or more of these unlocated images we encourage you to contribute a coordinate by clicking on the link,"setting a new one", to the right of the image.

If you discover any issues with the website functionality please report the issue via the "report bug" link found at the top left of each of page in the site.  We will deal with the reports in a timely manner to improve the site for the official launch in June.


English Heritage
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
Heritage Lottery Fund