Huge archive of aerial photos showing 20th century Britain win £1.75 million Lottery award

By Culture24 Staff | 14 October 2010
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A black and white overhead photo of a mass gathering
Durham Miners Gala (July 1948)© English Heritage
More than a million vertiginous aerial photos taken between the end of the First World War and 2006, including the largest set of overhead photographs of Britain taken before 1939, will be digitised for the public after the Lottery awarded £1.75 million to a four-year conservation programme.

English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland and Wales will start scanning negatives from the Aerofilms Collection in 2011, with 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 expected to be online by 2014.

"This is wonderful news," said Nigel Clubb, the Director of the English Heritage National Monuments Record. "We will now be able to make this amazing collection accessible to everybody to enjoy, as well as to share their memories and knowledge with others."

A black and white photo of an enormous stadium
The overhead cameras watch Sheffield Wednesday beat West Brom 4-2 in the 1935 FA Cup Final at Wembley. The Cierva autogyro in the foreground was flown by Scotland Yard, experimenting with air observation to monitor crowds© English Heritage
Created by an air survey company set up by a pair of First World War veterans, the collection charts the changing face of the nation during the 20th century. It is jointly managed by English Heritage, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Friends of National Libraries.

A project, Britain from Above, will be based at the National Monuments in Swindon as part of the cataloguing process.

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