What Britain used to look like from the air

From sprawling factory complexes to newly built suburban streets - by way of some of the UK's top sporting venues and seaside resorts. More than 10,000 images from one of the earliest collections of aerial photography are being made freely available on the web.

The Aerofilms Collection is being conserved and digitised by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland and Wales.

Many of the images are instantly recognisable - but the public are also being asked for their help to identify some other locations, and paint a picture of life in the UK between 1919 and 1953. Take a look at some of the photographs with Katy Whitaker from English Heritage.

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All images subject to copyright. Images courtesy English Heritage (Aerofilms collection) and Crown Copyright RCAHMS (Scotland) and RCAHMW (Wales).

Downton Abbey theme performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London. Other music courtesy KPM Music. Additional material from BBC Sound Archives.

Slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 25 June 2012.


Britain from Above

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More audio slideshows:

Showing paintings of British suburban houses to Saudis

Global views - lives and landscapes

Links between our landscape and literature

The Queen - 60 years of memories

A selection of your stories will be published soon.

The traffic jam on Firtree Road Banstead, (towards the end of the clips.) The commentator suggests that no-one knows how to behave..... She needs to go to the Epsom Derby sometime.... More realistically, it looks as though everyone is trying to turn right to go up to Epsom Downs on Derby Day! The junction of Firtree Road and Banstead Road is at the bottom left hand corner, and the open top bus on its own is on the north bound carriageway of th A217. Even today the traffic backs up on these same roads!

P Malvern, UK

I'm particularly interested in one of the photos almost at the end: Firtree Road, Banstead. Would that have been taken on Derby Day at nearby Epsom racecourse? Having lived in a nearby street in the sixties we regularly experienced massive traffic jams at time of race meetings, even with traffic lights.

Frida Garrood, Farnham Common

The Buildings with SHNewsome on the roof are well know to me, they where demoloished in 1962 and owned by the company my father founded. I have a lot of other information about Coventry so do contact me.

Paul Newsome, Coventry

Re your slide show at 01.22mins I know exactly where this is. It is not Westwood Heath. It is Canley Coventry. Bottom left hand corner is the Ten Shilling Woods. The road to the right hand side of the wood is Charter Avenue. In the middle of the picture is the longest road that travels from left to right. This is Wolfe Road. I can remember the tree that can be seen at the bottom of Wolfe Road next to the main Birmingham to Coventry railway line. I can make out my old classroom at Charter Primary School that is situated about 1/3 up from the bottom of the image just to the side of the Ten shilling wood.

Roger Batchelor, Coventry, Warwickshire

I rather doubt that the film of 'Fir Tree Road in Banstead' was taken in January 1923 as stated, looking at the foliage on the trees and maybe the open charabanc. I would consider it more likely to be June and on Derby Day. The traffic is approaching what is now known as Banstead Crossroads from Sutton (north) at the lower left of the picture, and from the direction of Purley at the upper left, and all would appear to be attempting to enter Fir Tree Road to proceed towards the Drift Bridge crossroads and onwards to Epsom Downs. The right fork leading to Banstead Railway Station can be seen at bottom right of the long-shot image. Vehicles may have been deterred from proceeding along Brighton Road (upper right) as traffic from the south would be directed off towards Tattenham Corner, only the bus continuing on its usual route. I could be completely wrong however, what do others think?

David Kriesler, Wallington, Surrey, England

picture of 37, Charteris Road, Kilburn, London, NW6. PICTURE SHOWS MY BROTHER AND SISTER WITH MY MOTHER IN THE 50s. BUT at 41, lived David Screaming Lord Sutch, my boyhood friend, we went to the same school together, Salusbury Road, Kilburn. Both of us grew up in this road. I worked for David for some years on the guntowers, shivering sands, thames estuary, Radio Sutch. and with his group the Savages.


I am certain that the cricket ground shown at 3:58 is Headingley, Leeds, with Kirkstall Lane running across the top left hand corner of the photo. It would be interesting to know the occasion though.

Tony Elwood, Southport, UK

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