Travel Back in Time with Historic England’s Aerial Photography Explorer

Photo Credit: © Historic England Archive. Aerofilms Collection

You can now explore over 400,000 digitised photos on Historic England’s website taken from aerial photo collections of over 6 million photographs preserved in the Historic England Archive. The interactive map allows users to explore their local area or places they visit, including Lincoln city centre and surrounding villages.

Many of the aerial photographs in the collection are from Aerofilms, an unprecedented business venture born in the aftermath of the First World War. According to Historic England, ‘Marrying the fledgling technology of powered flight to the discipline of photography, the business took more than 760,000 oblique aerial photographs between 1919 and 2006. Flying the length and breadth of the country, Aerofilms Ltd charted the changing face of the UK.’

Images available to discover include photographs taken by Aerofilms on June 20th 1949 of Lincoln Cathedral, The Ruston and Hornsby Works and a view of the city from the West taken on the 1st July 1926, as well as The Royal Agricultural Showground at West Common taken on June 25th 1947.

Photo Credit: © Historic England Archive. Aerofilms Collection

There are also more recent photographs on the map which display aerial shots taken in the 2000s. Presenting aerial imagery from different eras beside each other gives an interesting insight into how our landscape has changed over the years. You can witness the development and expansion of urban areas, as well as note changes to our rural settings over the decades.

On this interactive map you have the ability to turn layers on and off, adjust transparency of the layers, change the basemaps ranging from Open Streetmap to satellite imagery, get the co-ordinates of any location, as well as look through hundreds of thousands of captioned photographs.

Historic England are a public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment. They work with communities and specialists to share passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation to look after the history that surrounds us all.

If you would like to explore the changes in your area over the years for yourself, you can visit