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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Chocks Away! Take Off with Britain from Above!

On Saturday 2nd March, Britain from Above held its first BBC Big Screen event in Swindon’s city centre to launch the second phase of Virtual Volunteering as part of the Britain from Above project. For three hours we took over the big screen showing aerial images of Swindon from the 1920s and a promotional film from Aerofilms, which was produced to showcase their working methods. It was all very exciting with plenty of shots of the planes soaring through the clouds on their way to record yet another fascinating view. The film was ground breaking when it was first shown to a public for whom the Charleston was the latest dance craze, however, on Saturday, it captured the attention of the Harlem Shake generation just as keenly!

People stopped throughout the afternoon, taking a seat to watch the rolling images and films, then most came to ask us about the project and take a closer look at the website, which we had set up on one of the stalls.

As well as iPads and a monitor to show the Britain from Above website, we let people discover how their own local areas used to look ( we also had jigsaws to complete of various iconic images of Britain, a cut-away photoboard that lets you be the pilot for a photograph, and we also ran a paper plane competition with the chance to win an aviator teddy bear!

The paper planes proved very popular with children and adults, and even lured out the teenagers! We had four official competitions throughout the day, where the winner was decided by the plane that had flown the furthest, but everyone was welcome to join in, have a go at making and decorating a plane, and launching it from the runway line!

It was a successful, if cold, day in Swindon that helped raise the profile of the project to new audiences, who are now keen to have a go on the website themselves from the comfort of their own warm homes!

The project is running until 2014 and currently has over 25,000 images uploaded and available for everyone to view. Registering a free profile on the website allows you even more freedom to take part in the project: zoom in on images; share your stories; tag photos with place names to help us identify unlocated images; and join groups to talk to other people with the same interests. The collection is updated every few months; by the end of the project we will have all 95,000 images from the Aerofilms collection (1919-1953) uploaded for everyone to find out more about the changing face of Britain in the early 20th century.

By Natasha Scullion, Activity Officer (Wales) – Britain from the Above Project.

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