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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ordnance Survey Aerial Photography Collections - Treasures From Our Archive

A large proportion of the Aerial Photographic Collections within the National Monuments Record of Wales comprises prints and negatives from the Ordnance Survey Aerial Mapping Programme. These vertical views date from between 1962 and 2009. Each individual frame on these very large rolls of film is in the region of 9” (23cm) square. Such a large format will capture an incredible level of detail on the ground.

Porthcawl, Glamorgan DI_21014_0440

The photograph above (DI_21014_0440) shows Porthcawl, Glamorgan. There is a light amount of traffic on the road, but there are many cars parked on the promenade. The tide is out – the boats in the harbour are lying on the mud, and the beach in the bottom-right shows a large expanse of exposed sand.

In the top-left corner of the photograph the counter shows this is frame number 123. In the black strip on the top of the frame, there are four small windows giving vital details about the image. On the left, the altimeter reads 6,170ft. The next window the spirit bubble for the azimuth indicator shows us that the aircraft is flying level. The calibrated clock tells us the photograph was taken at exactly 15 seconds past 10:55. In the last window, the date is the 5 of May 1993, with the unique film reference number 93-125.

In addition to showing an interesting ‘snapshot’ of past land-use patterns, it is possible for the historical aerial photography to be used for a variety of purposes, including archaeological investigation, locating boundaries and footpaths, planning issues, site morphology, etc.
The whole country was overflown and photographed to update the map coverage. Backup ground surveys and calibration by OS staff made this a very efficient and accurate method of recording the landscape.

These collections are accessible for viewing in our Search Room & Library during our normal opening hours. If you wish to consult the full range of any available aerial photographic cover an appointment is advisable.

For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW:

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