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95,000 Aerofilms aerial photos to go online

Aerial shot of Manchester Ship Canal taken by Aerofilms in 1947

Manchester Ship Canal, 25th May 1947

The Heritage Lottery Fund have recently agreed to grant £1.75 million to help put an amazing collection of aerial photographs online.

The photos will be conserved, scanned and made available on a new website, to be called Britain from Above, and is a collaboration between English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland and Wales.

Aerofilms was a company set up in 1919 by veterans of the First World War, and flew across the UK taking over a million aerial shots. These are now held in Swindon, Edinburgh and Aberystwyth by the three main organisations involved.

The project will start digitising chronologically, and so will have photos from 1919 to around 1927 when the website launches in 2011. Once up, visitors will be able to search for images, and tag and add notes to them to create a ‘crowdsourced’ archive of information. This is going to be a pretty amazing resource – I’ve seen some of the shots (an example is above), and the Aerofilms collection kept growing until 2006 so it’s an important historic resource. Until the site goes up you can order photos covering England through the usual NMR channels.

For more details, contact aerofilms@english-heritage.org.uk, or sign up for updates on the English Heritage news page. Of course, as soon as I hear any more myself you’ll hear about it here!

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