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Lottery Funding for Aerofilms

27 September 2010

One of the earliest and most significant collections of oblique aerial photography of the United Kingdom is to be conserved, digitised and made publicly accessible thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1,755,722.

RCAHMS, along with English Heritage and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, will use the funding to undertake a four-year conservation programme on the oldest and most valuable photographs in the Aerofilms Collection and make these images available freely online.

Acquired for the nation in 2007, the Aerofilms Collection of over 1 million photographs dates from 1919 to 2006 and presents an unparalleled picture of the changing face of Britain in the twentieth century. From shots of the RMS Queen Mary under construction in John Brown’s Shipyard, Clydebank in 1935, to views of the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in London the same year, the archive is a treasure-trove preserving iconic moments from the history of the nation.

The four-year programme starts in 2011 and will involve the general public in sharing memories and information related to the images. Fragile negatives will be conserved and scanned into digital format, and a new website, Britain from Above, will be launched at the end of 2011. By 2014, 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 will be available to view online.

Lesley Ferguson, RCAHMS Head of Collections, said “The HLF grant is key to making this fascinating collection accessible to everyone. Aerial photography provides a unique perspective on history and I’m sure the stunning images of both Scotland and the rest of Britain will inspire the public. By interacting with the collection and sharing their memories and wealth of knowledge, they will truly bring the project to life”.