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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Aerofilms: Britain from Above comes to Cardiff Airport

Francis Lewis Wills, pilot Jerry Shaw and Claude Friese-Greene in a DH9B biplane, July 1919
© English Heritage. Aerofilms Collection AFL03/Aerofilms/C12930.
From now – 7 November, 2014

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has a fascinating exhibition of historic images now on display at Cardiff Airport. Appropriately located in this modern busy airport, the Wales Aerofilms: Britain from Above exhibition draws on historic aerial images from across Wales. From this exhibition, throughout the airport, travellers will encounter breath-taking images drawn from the unique archive of the Aerofilms Collection, dating from 1919 to 2006. Set up in the early years of aviation, Aerofilms’ founders ─ daredevil veterans from the First World War ─ were pioneers of the air, establishing the world’s first commercial air photographic business. A collection of adventurers, showmen and aviation enthusiasts, the firm married the fledgling technology of flight to the discipline of photography. From the very start of operations, Aerofilms took photographs of virtually every settlement and landscape that it flew over. Acquired for the nation in 2007 by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and Scotland, and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the collection contains over one million images and presents an unparalleled picture of the changing face of Britain in the twentieth century.

In parallel with national exhibitions also being held in Edinburgh, Hendon and Birmingham, the Wales exhibition now being held at Cardiff Airport will include: an image-rich introduction to the Aerofilms Collection, a wide-ranging presentation on Cardiff Then and Now, and iconic photographs of Welsh sites, including the Edwardian castles that are now World Heritage Sites. Where possible period views have been matched with the Royal Commission’s modern aerial photographs to prompt reflection on the meaning and impact of change, place and memory.

Aerofilms attending a promotional event, National Aviation Day Display, 1930s
© English Heritage. Aerofilms Collection AFL03/Aerofilms/B5794.

Oystermouth Castle, Swansea, 1947
Oystermouth Castle was founded in c.1107. This photograph shows the castle overgrown and surrounded by allotments, presumably established for the war effort. The allotment gardens are still cultivated and the castle has been restored.
© Crown Copyright RCAHMW. WAW007664, NPRN: 94508

Cardiff Civic Centre, 1920
The fine Civic Centre buildings in Cathays Park, Cardiff, showing  the City Hall, the Law Courts, and  the National Museum, which was then under construction and did not open until 1927.
© Crown Copyright RCAHMW. WPW001008, NPRN: 401617

Cardiff Civic Centre, 2006
Cardiff’s fine Civic Centre at Cathays Park, with the university buildings, National Museum, City Hall, Law Courts and Government Offices, and with the Welsh National War Memorial at its centre.
© Crown Copyright RCAHMW. AP_2006_1824
Cardiff Arms Park, 1947
Cardiff Arms Park served as the Welsh National Rugby Stadium for nearly 30 years until 1997, but its rugby history dates back to 1881 when stands were first erected on the site.
© Crown Copyright RCAHMW. WAW005393, NPRN: 3064

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