Historic Edinburgh from above

03 February 2014
Stunning aerial images of bygone Edinburgh released by RCAHMS show the changing cityscape over the course of the 20th century. ...
Historic Edinburgh from above Images
Stunning aerial images of bygone Edinburgh released by RCAHMS show the changing cityscape over the course of the 20th century.

The images were captured by Aerofilms, a business venture set up in 1919 which aimed to pair the emerging photography industry with newly available flights. Aerofilms produced thousands of aerial images of the UK each year, often selling bird's eye views of businesses and homes to companies and private individuals.

Now, the Museum of Edinburgh is to play host to Historic Edinburgh From Above, an exhibition which runs from 2 February to 26 April 2014. Members of the public will be able to see familiar landmarks (such as Princes Street shown here in 1927) and zoom in on the dramatic shots.

The exhibition is a local offshoot of RCAHMS’s major UK-wide project Britain from Above, a partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and English Heritage to present the Aerofilms collection of aerial photographs from 1919-1953. 

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Leader for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: 'Edinburgh’s rich heritage is part of its appeal and is appreciated by residents and visitors the world over, and this exhibition offers a new perspective on the city’s fascinating history.

'We are delighted with the gallery created for us by the Royal Commission, which showcases some of the amazing architecture, landscapes and thriving industry of our past. Historic Edinburgh from Above is a welcome addition to our busy calendar of sporting and cultural events marking the exciting year ahead.'

Both historic buildings and natural landscapes have been captured, as this image of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Calton Hill in 1947 shows:

Lesley Ferguson, Head of Collections, RCAHMS said: 'We are delighted to be exhibiting these wonderful images taken by Aerofilms in the Museum of Edinburgh. The ‘bird’s eye’ view provides a tantalising glimpse into this historic city and some of the changes that transformed Edinburgh in the twentieth century. 

'The exhibition represents just a small number of the photographs taken by Aerofilms and we hope that visitors will be inspired to discover more online at the project website Britain From Above.'


Historic Edinburgh From Above runs from 2 February to 26 April 2014.

Venue: Museum of Edinburgh, 142-146 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD; tel: 0131 529 4143. Visit the Museum of Edinburgh website.

The image below shows a general view of Edinburgh in 1951:

(All images copyright RCAHMS)

See stunning RCAHMS images of bygone Glasgow in our special feature.

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