Archive shots of Ely Cathedral from the air released

ONE of the earliest photographs of Ely Cathedral from the air was among thousands of pictures released online this week.

Just a few years after aviation become possible; photographers took to the skies above the nation and snapped thousands of iconic landmarks, towns and cities, with Ely’s magnificent cathedral and surrounding landscape a part of that process.

Now, almost a century on, 15,000 photos form one of the most important collections of aerial photography in existence have been made available online for the first time.

Experts have spend months carefully preparing, restoring and cataloguing the photos ready for conversion online, with many of the original photos close to being lost forever.

The collection was created by Aerofilms Ltd, a pioneering air survey company set up by First World War veterans FL Wills and C Grahame-White just after the end of WWI in 1919. Wills brought knowledge and enthusiasm for air photography while Grahame-White was a pioneer aviator.

A spokesman for English Heritage said: “The photographs featuring on the website date from 1919 to 1953, and have gone through a painstaking process of conservation and cataloguing.

“Due to their age and fragility, many of the earliest plate glass negatives were close to being lost forever.

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“Covering the countryside, industrial and urban landscapes, iconic landmarks and villages and coastal scenes, its chronological and geographical coverage is superb and documents the face of Britain during a period of intense and unparalleled change.”

When the project is completed in 2014, 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 will be available via the new website, showing the changing face of the Britain Isles.

The photos can be viewed at