Aerofilms : Britain From Above
31st March 2015 - 31st March 2016
Aerofilms’ story begins at Hendon, an important centre for early aviation in Britain. The RAF Museum stands on the edge of the former London Aerodrome established by Claude Grahame-White in 1911. With Grahame-White’s connection to Hendon it was natural that he would later base his new business - Aerofilms Ltd – here in 1919.
Spurred on by First World War advances in aeroplane engineering and aerial reconnaissance, Aerofilms’ founders (Grahame-White and Francis Lewis Wills) spotted an opportunity to make a business out of aerial photography. With £3,000 capital and hired aeroplanes, Aerofilms Ltd was established in a suite at the London Flying Club on the London Aerodrome site, developing glass plate negatives in an adjoining bathroom. It was a new, unique venture – untried, untested, exciting and dangerous.
The exhibition, curated by English Heritage, will showcase Aerofilms’ unique aerial archive as well as its early years at Hendon and its role in the Second World War. Aerofilms’ commercial work was interrupted by the Second World War. In May 1940 Aerofilms was requisitioned by the Air Ministry, the firm’s aerial interpretation skills making an invaluable contribution to the war effort as part of the highly successful Central Interpretation Unit at RAF Medmenham in Buckinghamshire. After the war, Aerofilms once again took to the skies, photographing the rapidly changing face of Britain’s urban centres and rural landscapes.
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