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Explore Your Archive 2017: The Story of Aerial Photography

In November this year the Historic England Archive will be running a series of events covering 'The Story of Aerial Photography'. This ties in with the Explore Your Archive campaign arranged by The National Archives. The Explore Your Archive season runs from 18 - 26 November 2017. 

Learn from our experts through free talks, a behind the scenes tour and our open day. Delve into the fascinating work of the Archive at one of our events:



Free behind the scenes tour 2pm - 3:30pm Monday 20 November - SOLD OUT

Join our experts as they take you on a behind the scenes tour of our Archive in Swindon. You’ll have a chance to see the range of material held in the Archive, and will find out how it can be used for research.

Find out more and book your place

Free evening talk 6pm - 8pm Tuesday 21 November

The Aerial Photographic Collections held by the Historic England Archive

Mike Evans , Head of Archive, and Katy Whitaker, Assistant Listing Adviser, will talk about the aerial photographic collections held by the Archive. There will also be original Archive material for you to view.

Find out more and book your place

Archive black and white photograph of three men in flying gear, two with cameras, posed aboard a biplane.
A publicity shot for the foundation of the Aerofilms aerial photography company. © Historic England Archive

Free evening talk - 6pm - 8pm Thursday 23 November

The History of Aerial Photography, from the Victorians to Modern Technology

Martyn Barber, Senior Investigator, Aerial Investigation and Mapping, and Damian Grady, National Aerial Reconnaissance Manager, will showcase the development of aerial photography, from the early balloonists to modern day aerial reconnaissance. There will also be original Archive material for you to view.

Find out more and book your place



Discover local history at our family open day, with a range of free activities

On Saturday 25 November, from 11am – 3pm, the Archive will be holding an open day at our offices in Swindon. This free event will include a series of talks, displays, and tours, focussing on our aerial photographic collections. We’ll also be running a range of activities for children, including paper aeroplane competitions, model making, dressing up and detective work to discover how Swindon and the surrounding area has changed over time.

Book a place on one of our talks

Photograph showing models reconstructing the view shown in an aerial photograph
Activities available at our open day!

Explore our collections of aerial photography, from early balloon flights to present day aerial reconnaissance

You can search over 100,000 aerial photographs of Britain, taken by Aerofilms Ltd, at Britain from Above

View highlights of our collections on our Google Arts and Culture page.

Find out more about our aerial photography:

Books and gifts

Historic England has produced a number of fascinating books on the subject including these:

An aerial photo of a favourite place can also make a great gift. You can order a range of gifts from our selection here:

Buy a jigsaw!

Photograph of a jigsaw puzzle underway
A jigsaw of an RAF vertical aerial photograph showing St Pauls Cathedral in 1948. This and many others can be purchased from

Find more Explore Your Archive events

This website provided by the The National Archive helps you to search for more archive activities around the UK:

Search by region

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Explore Your Archive Image Gallery

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Black and white vertical aerial photograph showing a domed cathedral surrounded by streets with many damaged or bombed-out buildings and some blocks that have been cleared and levelled.
  • colour aerial photograph showing a shopping centre with surrounding car parks.
  • colour aerial photograph showing large domes and landscaped terraces with car parks in a reclaimed quarry.
  • Hand-coloured photograph showing one balloon in flight and another tethered in parkland surrounded by crowds of onlookers.
  • colour aerial photograph showing a semicircular array of buildings centring on a tower, with further clusters of buildings beyond, and sports pitches in the foreground.
  • Colour aerial photograph showing a dense complex of industrial buildings.