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Britain from Above

With a new interactive website launched in June 2012, the Britain from Above project is all about the preservation of 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 are then scanned into digital format. The images are catalogued and are then uploaded to the bespoke website for everyone to see.

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, March 1921

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, March 1921
© English Heritage (EPW005602)

The collection

This vast, historic collection was created by Aerofilms Ltd, the first commercial aerial photography company in the country, which was set up by Frances Lewis Wills and the pioneer aviator and entrepreneur Claude Grahame-White in 1919.

The whole Aerofilms oblique collection runs to more than 1.2 million negatives and thousands of photograph albums, held by English Heritage and its project partners in Swindon, Edinburgh and Aberystwyth.

The 95,000 negatives being cared for as part of the Britain from Above project are the earliest and most vulnerable, with many unique images illustrating the dramatically changing face of Britain in the first half of the 20th century.

West Jesmond Railway Station, Jesmond, October 1927

West Jesmond Railway Station, Jesmond, October 1927
© English Heritage (EPW019806)

Share your memories

The Britain from Above website gives you the opportunity to share and record your memories of the places shown and also to help us identify the locations and buildings featured in the images. You can zoom right into the details of the photographs, and download images for free.

English Heritage is working in partnership with the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Wales on the project which started in 2011. The project has been made possible due to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and support from The Foyle Foundation and other donors. This is a four year project, which will end in 2014.

Twickenham, the annual Army Navy rugby union match, 23 March 1929

Twickenham, the annual Army Navy rugby union match, 23 March 1929
© English Heritage (EPW025845)

Stay up to date

To receive newsletters giving updates on the Britain from Above Project, please subscribe by sending an email to

There may be forthcoming opportunities to volunteer with the Britain from Above project. See our Volunteering page for more information.