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Aerial Photos

We hold over 4 million aerial photographs covering the whole of England and dating from the early 20th century to the present day. This unique collection, held in our Archive in Swindon, captures the changes in our urban and rural landscape over a period of almost 100 years.

Find aerial photographs

You can search over 95,000 oblique aerial photographs online via the Britain from Above website.

The rest of the collection has not been digitised, but you can request a free search for aerial cover of your area of interest.

You can also arrange to view prints free of charge in our Search Room in Swindon.

Colour aerial photos

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Colour aerial photograph showing a pattern of different varieties of trees
  • Colour aerial photograph showing London's flood defence system.
  • Archive colour aerial photograph showing the outline of a Roman fort on a mountainous promontory.

Vertical photographs

Our collection includes vertical photographs, taken by cameras fixed directly beneath the aircraft to capture a plan-like view. We hold photographs from the RAF and Ordnance Survey, amongst others.

Oblique photographs

Our collection includes oblique, or angled, photographs, taken by cameras fixed at an angle or hand-held. As well as photographs taken by Aerofilms and others, our aerial photographers are still adding new images to the Archive.

Vertical aerial photos

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Archive vertical aerial photograph of St Pauls Cathedral amid flattened buildings
  • Archive vertical aerial photograph of Slough Trading Estate
  • Archive vertical aerial photograph showing left to right Barbury Castle hillfort on the Ridgeway, the airfield with numerous aircraft awaiting repairs, and the village.

How to use aerial photography

You can use aerial photographs in many different ways, including for:

  • Local history - see how a village, town or city has developed over time
  • Family history - you might be able to see where your ancestors once lived, even if the street has long since been demolished
  • Archaeological research - study cropmarks, soilmarks and earthworks to identify features that may not be visible today
  • Desk-based assessments - identify previous land use from traces of early agriculture to mining and heavy industry
  • Boundary disputes and other legal issues - historic aerial photos may help settle issues

You can virtually see individual window panes of a house, taken from an aeroplane which is goodness knows how many thousands of feet up!

User of our Britain from Above website

 

Contact

An antique dial phone on a shelf
Archive Services

Historic England

The Engine House,
Fire Fly Avenue,
Swindon,
SN2 2EH

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