Aerofilms Is Tasked with Uploading 1.2 Million Photographs Online

Oxford Mail: The City Motor Co. garage in an almost traffic-free and largely undeveloped Botley Road, pictured in 1935
The City Motor Co. garage in an almost traffic-free and largely undeveloped Botley Road, pictured in 1935

Aerofilms launched in 1919 by the First World War veteran, Lewis Wills and Claude Grahame-White, a daredevil aviator. Aerofilms amassed an archive of images between 1919 and 2006.

Oxford Mail:
Radcliffe Camera taken in 1946

Wills was a WWI Royal Navy aircraft navigator and a photographer. His compatriot, Grahame-White was a celebrity aviator who was the first man to receive a UK’s pilot’s license. He was also the first gentleman to make the first flight flown at nighttime. £3,000 in capital and borrowed planes, the company Aeroplanes was able to establish itself at the London Aerodome in Hendon, developing glass plate negatives of landscapes captured from above.

The firm continued to establish the largest collection of aerial photographs of Britain. This includes photos taken between the 20s and the 30s of East Oxford. The English Heritage staff have now undergone the enormous task of putting all the images collected and putting them online to the website The group has also published a new book, Aerofilms: A History of Britain from Above. The book features almost 200 photographs which include images from across Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail:
Cowley Center taken in 1964

Katy Whitaker is the cataloguing team leader for the English Heritage. The organization’s archive is based in Swindon, and Whitaker oversees the collection of 1.2 million images. Whitaker said the collection features a large amount of photos that were taken of East Oxford from 1920 to 1930. She has told the Oxford Mail, “There are a lot of photos of East Oxford, around the Morris Motors works. “You get a general view, and a lot of detail too, and as populations grow near the factories you can see schools, sports pitches and railway lines.

“One image shows Morris Cowley station in 1934 – any major plant needs a transport link.”

The English Heritage organized a popular link-up with the museum of Oxford in 2013. Children took part and colorizing enlarged photographs of East Oxford. The images from Aerofil;ms collected are on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon until March 1, 2016.

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE