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"Britain from Above" project displays archival photographs

The “Britain from Above” project preserves 95,000 of the oldest and most valuable photographic negatives in the Aerofilms collection, dating from 1919 to 1953. The negatives, which consist of both glass plates and early film negatives, are carefully conserved and scanned into digital format for public view.

According to its curators, English Heritage, this vast, historic collection was created by Aerofilms Ltd, the first commercial aerial photography company in Britain, set up by Frances Lewis Wills and Claude Grahame-White in 1919. The whole Aerofilms oblique collection contains more than 1.2 million negatives and thousands of photograph albums, held in Swindon, Edinburgh and Aberystwyth.

The 95,000 negatives illustrate the dramatically changing face of Britain in the first half of the 20th century. The project launched a new interactive website in June 2012.

Houses of Parliament and Parliament Square, Westminster, London on June 1926Aerofilms Collection / EPA

Purves Road, Kensal Green, London on March 1921Aerofilms Collection / EPA

Crystal Palace, Penge, London on April 1925Aerofilms Collection / EPA

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