Britain from above

The Britain from Above website features images from the Aerofilms collection, an aerial photographic archive that includes 1.26 million negatives and more than 2000 photograph albums. The collection dates from 1919 to 2006, and includes the largest number of air photographs of Britain taken before 1939. The collection includes urban, suburban, rural, coastal and industrial scenes, providing important evidence for understanding and managing the built and natural environments. The collection was created by Aerofilms Ltd, a pioneering air survey company set up in 1919 by First World War veterans Francis Lewis Wills and Claude Grahame-White. In addition to Aerofilms’ own imagery, the firm expanded its holdings with the purchase of two smaller collections – AeroPictorial (1934-1960) and Airviews (1947-1991).

Britain from Above is a project aimed at conserving 95,000 of the oldest and most valuable photographs in the Aerofilms collection, namely those dating from 1919 to 1953. Once conserved, they are scanned into digital format and made available online. The section ‘Galleries’ shows some galleries of related images from across the Aerofilms collections. Moreover, it possible to search all digitized images in various ways:

  • Basic search: through the search box in the top right corner a free text search is possible
  • Advanced search options include co-ordinates, date range, place name, or a combination of these. A list of keywords is also available
  • On the ‘browse’ page users can browse the images by map

Each image is accompanied by information about it. Tags on the photos identify places. All images can be viewed and downloaded without registering, but registering to the site allows users also to zoom in on the images and to contribute information themselves.

The Britain from Above website is run jointly by The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), English Heritage (EH), and The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW).

Last update

Saturday, 19 October 2013 - 2:57pm
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