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Front cover for Aerofilms

A history of Britain from above

Hardback by James Crawford, Katy Whitaker, Allan Williams


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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, Aerofilms 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 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'.


  • Introduction
  • Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, 1919-1929
  • Wot, No Depression? 1930-1936
  • Eyes in the Sky, 1937-1945
  • Brand Britain, 1946-1953
  • Epilogue

Additional Information

  • Printed Price: £25.00
  • Series: Illustrated History
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Format: Hardback
  • Physical Size: 300 x 245 mm
  • Pages: 224
  • Illustration: 200, Black and White & Colour
  • Product Code: 51821
  • ISBN: 9781848022485


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Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Blackpool Tower
  • Two De Havilland DH9 biplanes fly in close formation during RAF Aerial
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Crystal Palace, rebuilt in Penge
  • Arsenal’s Highbury football ground, 23 March 1929 FA Cup semi-final, Portsmouth v. Aston Villa
  • Clifton, Bristol
  • Tenby, south-west Wales
  • Battersea Power Station, A, built between 1929 and 1935.  Photograph taken in 1933. Battersea Power Station B, with the other two familiar chimneys, was built later and became fully operational in 1955.
  • Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, 1937, transformed into a vast army encampment
  • Royal Crescent, Bath.  'Dig for Victory' campaign continued for many years after the war with some 72 allotments shown here and was only transformed back into lawn in 1957
  • One of the 2,369 Albums of prints acquired as part of the Aerofilms Collection

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