These brilliant aerial images of our area have been recently added to the Britain from Above website run by English Heritage. The website – britainfromabove.org.uk – was launched in June last year when the first 15,000 images from the Aerofilms collection were posted online.
BY the end of next year, it is hoped to have all 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 in the Britain From Above collection.
Aerofilms was probably the first aerial photography company in the country. It was set up at the end of the First World War by two veterans, Francis Wills and Claude Grahame- White.
Wills was an aerial photography enthusiast and Grahame-White was a pioneering aviator – he was the first Englishman to qualify for an aviator’s certificate in 1909 and in 1910 became a celebrity for making the first night flight in the London to Manchester race.
Their first aerial photographs were taken on glass slides which were developed in a bathroom at the London Flying Hotel, beside the Hendon airstrip in north London.
Aerofilms’ collection of about a million images was acquired for the nation in 2007 by English Heritage with the financial assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Friends of National Libraries.
The first task was to preserve the glass slides, and then the digitisation began.
The freely accessible website encourages people to add information and memories to the pictures, which users can download. It really is a remarkable and fascinating collection.