Magnifying the past with Britain from Above
Images from the past are to form the focus of a series of workshops run by Sight Service and English Heritage over the coming months, as partially-sighted people from Gateshead and South Tyneside delve into the Britain from Above archives of historic photographs.
The project has been designed to bring together cutting edge technology with traditional reminiscing, using large screens, accessible computers and tablets to showcase images now available online which were taken between 1919 and 1953. The initiative will see English Heritage’s experts support local history enthusiasts who suffer from sight loss to explore the archives, and add their own memories to the social library of experiences on www.britainfromabove.org.uk. This will then help interpret the images for future generations.
“Although you might not immediately consider a photographic library to be of interest to those with visual impairments, Sight Service are able to demonstrate how technology – from large screens to digital magnifiers – can open up this superb resource of aerial photography to those with limited vision,” explains Britain from Above activity officer, Sandra Brauer. “Over 25,000 photographs are already available, with a great selection of images from this area – many of which will be familiar to the older members of the group. Indeed, the comments that other users have made about the photographs – and the comments we hope to add during these sessions – should help further enhance the experience, sparking other memories of streets and locations which will be recorded as part of the archive.”
Sue Taylor, chief executive of Sight Service is delighted that they are able to take part in this initiative. “For us, this helps us demonstrate how technology can transform the lives of people with visual impairments; those with milder impairments will be helped by looking at the images on larger screens or magnified, and we have volunteers on hand to describe and explain the photographs to those with little or no vision.”
Participants will be encouraged to explore the aerial photography archive, and will be supported as they learn techniques for local history exploration and research.
The course is free of charge and starts on 10 January at Sight Service’s Gateshead centre, at Bensham Hospital. The course runs for ten weeks, with a limited number of places still available. For more information, please call 0191 478 5959.
Notes to editors:
Sight Service is the leading local provider of services and support for people who are visually impaired and live in Gateshead or South Tyneside. It offers advice, information and support to enable visually impaired people to have the quality of life which many sighted people take for granted.
Britain from Above is a four year Heritage Lottery funded project managed by English Heritage to conserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online the first 95,000 images of a unique collection of aerial photography, taken between 1919 and 1953. The collection comprises of over 1.2 million photographs in total, taken by the pioneering company Aerofilms Ltd between 1919 and 2006.
The images provide an unparalleled photographic history of Britain from the air in the twentieth century illustrating the enormous changes that have taken place in housing, leisure, industry, transport and agriculture and the physical impact of two World Wars. English Heritage works in partnership with the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales and Scotland to make those images freely available on www.britainfromabove.org.uk for all to see.
For further media information, please contact:
Jay Commins – PRO English Heritage (Education)
Tel: 01904 500698
Mob: 07810 546567