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Tower of London revealed in first aerial photos from 1917

PUBLISHED: 13:01 08 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:40 05 October 2010

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ONE of the very first aerial surveys of London has just been released showing what the metropolis was really like—back in 1917. The Great War still had a year to run when these unique aerial photographs were taken along the Thames

ABOVE: A superb aerial study of the Tower of London (to the left) with Tower Bridge below, the distinctive St Katharine’s Docks to the right and the Fenchurch Street railway running across the top...

BELOW: Millwall Docks where today’s Canary Wharf is, with the East India Dock Road running along the top through Limehouse (left) and Poplar. The bottom picture shows the North Greenwich Peninsular where the O2 Millennium Dome is one day to be sited. You can just make out the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel that runs northward under the Thames...

By Mike Brooke

ONE of the very first aerial surveys of London has just been released showing what the metropolis was really like—back in 1917.

The Great War still had a year to run when these unique aerial photographs were taken along the Thames.

They have just become available online from Bluesky aerial survey specialists.

WAR TRENCHES

This historically significant collection also includes images of the trenches along the Western Front in France and war defences and images taken while the pilot, an Army Fusilier, was stationed in Russia.

“We can find no evidence to dispute that this is the earliest-ever aerial survey of London,” said Bluesky archive manager David Drabble.

“It offers a valuable record of London towards the end of the First World War.”

The original photographs were in a family album of a retired RAF helicopter pilot, whose grandfather took them during the 1914-18 War while attached to the Royal Flying Corp.

The online collection already includes a million aerial pictures dating back to the 1940s which researchers can find by entering a postcode, address or grid reference.

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