Warwickshire from the air – amazing photos from an underrated photographer

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INCREDIBLE images of Warwickshire have been made available to the public online for the first time to celebrate the work of a pioneering aerial photographer.

Historic England’s Archive and Harold Wingham’s friends and colleagues worked together to create the Harold Wingham Collection, which contains nearly 2,000 images featuring architectural, archaeological and industrial subjects.

Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon Avon, Warwickshire (60045649)

Harold took the photographs during 86 flights, made between April 1951 and July 1963, over the West and South West of England. He used hand-held aerial reconnaissance cameras because they could produce images with excellent resolution and capture lots of detail.

Until now, Harold has been considered “one of the unsung heroes” of aerial photography, but it is hoped that the online exhibition, divided into three galleries, will address this issue and allow people to learn more about an amateur aerial photographer who funded many flights.

Born in 1924 in Calmore, on the edge of the New Forest in 1924, Harold served during the war in the RAF as a wireless operator and apprentice navigator.

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire (60045653)
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire (60045653)

After the end of the conflict he compiled weather reports for the Department of Civil Aviation in Gloucester and later worked for the Gloster Aircraft Corporation.

But he also took flying lessons and learned photography in order to be able to carry out aerial reconnaissance for archaeological purposes. He bought surplus government camera equipment and film and covered sites in Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire.

He died last year and the Historical Archives of England decided to commemorate his life and work.

The Ettington Park country house was renovated in 1858-1862 by John Pritchard and John Pollard Seddon.  The owner of the house at the time was politician and antiques dealer Evelyn Shirley.  During the Second World War, the park housed a camp for German prisoners of war.© Historic England Archive.  Harold Wingham Collection (60045639)
The Ettington Park country house was renovated in 1858-1862 by John Pritchard and John Pollard Seddon. The owner of the house at the time was politician and antiques dealer Evelyn Shirley. During the Second World War, the park housed a camp for German prisoners of war.© Historic England Archive. Harold Wingham Collection (60045639)

Gary Winter, Head of Engagement and Content at Historic England Archive, said: “Our celebration of the Harold Wingham collection project has brought our archive team together with friends of Harold to share knowledge and ideas and make a fascinating collection accessible online to the public.

“Harold’s friends and colleagues suggested display themes, selected images to illustrate each theme, and provided text for captions. It was a pleasure to work with them to produce a fitting tribute to someone who was obviously appreciated and respected.

Meon Hill hill fort, Quinton, Warwickshire The parallel lines inside the hill are evidence of ploughing.  Plowing and landslides damaged or obscured some of the defensive features.  (60045651)
Meon Hill hill fort, Quinton, Warwickshire The parallel lines inside the hill are evidence of ploughing. Plowing and landslides damaged or obscured some of the defensive features. (60045651)

Harold’s friend Richard Savage said: ‘His flight, with a fellow pilot whose death in a plane crash in 1963 ended Harold’s aerial photography, was largely self-funded and was based on his economic way of life. He lived alone and had many friends.

The online collections can be consulted at https://tinyurl.com/3spfvsbd.

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire (60045641)
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire (60045641)
Arold Wingham standing next to an Auster 5J-160 light aircraft, which was built in 1946. (60045655)
Arold Wingham standing next to an Auster 5J-160 light aircraft, which was built in 1946. (60045655)



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