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Product Code: 51821

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A contribution from the sale of this product helps us to secure this spectacular and unique heritage for future generations to enjoy.


  • The Aerofilms Collection embodies all that is exciting about aerial photography - including historic shots of well known British landmarks taken at exceptionally low altitudes

  • Provides an unparalleled perspective on rapid changes to the social, architectural and industrial fabric of Britain in the first half of the 20th century

  • Aerofilms was acquired for the nation in 2007 - many rare and fragile glass negatives and prints have been saved, digitised and preserved after a painstaking process of conservation and cataloguing

Aerofilms Ltd was born on 9 May 1919. An unprecedented business venture, it hoped to marry the still fledgling technology of powered flight to the discipline of photography. Its founders were Claude Grahame-White, an internationally-famous English aviation pioneer, and Francis Lewis Wills, a trained architect who had flown as an observer for the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War. Together they embarked on a distinctively British tale of derring-do. From developing photographic glass plates in a hotel bathroom at the London Flying Club in Hendon, to producing many thousands of aerial images every year, they took a tool which had first been used for military intelligence, and repackaged it for the mass market.

As a result, Aerofims lived through and recorded one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. After surviving the worldwide economic crash of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and serving their country at the direct request of Winston Churchill during the Second World War, they were still on hand to help shape the Britain of the future, capturing the major reconstruction projects of the 1940s and 50s.

Aerofilms: A History of Britain From Above draws on thousands of images, including many that are rare or previously unseen, to present a vivid picture of the nation in the first half of the twentieth century. Following the company's enigmatic founders, daredevil pilots, skilled photographers and innovative advertisers, it explores how they manufactured and sold a potent sense of place and identity to the British people. The story of Aerofilms - the men and women behind the company and the photographs that they produced - is a story of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, war, marketing and the making of 'Brand Britain;.

Publish Date: February 2014 Extent: 224pp, 200 illustrations Contents


  1. Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, 1919-1929

  2. Wot, No Depression? 1930-1936

  3. Eyes in the Sky, 1937-1945

  4. Brand Britain, 1946-1953

  5. Epilogue

About the Authors

James Crawford is RCAHMS Communications Manager,
and has previously worked as a literary agent, journalist
and editor.

Katy Whitaker is cataloguing team leader at English Heritage,
and an expert on the history of the Aerofilms Collection.

Allan Williams is curator of the National Collection of Aerial,
Photography held at RCAHMS Edinburg


Size: 300 x 245mm (Hardback)
Author: James Crawford, Katy Whitaker and Allan Williams
ISBN: 978-1-84802-248-5

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Delivery Info

Standard Delivery £4.99: Applies to UK standard delivery rate only.
You can expect delivery by Royal Mail or Courier within 7 working days after placing your order.

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