By Historic England
This story is the result of a co-creation project between former friends and associates of Harold Wingham and the Historic England Archive.
Portrait of Harold Wingham standing beside a fixed wing aircraft (circa 1950s) by Unknown photographerHistoric England
Harold Wingham, aerial photographer
Harold Wingham's outstanding aerial photographs are the result of his skillful use of a camera and the abilities of the pilots he relied on to get him in position to take the best image possible.
Taken between 1951 and 1963, Harold’s photographs record the ancient and modern, from Neolithic long barrows to factory complexes, castles and cathedrals to docks and river crossings.
Described as 'one of the unsung heroes' of aerial photography, Harold Wingham created photographs of outstanding quality and interest.
Nearly 2,000 of Harold's aerial photographs are now cared for by the Historic England Archive.
Avon Tyre Factory, Melksham, Wiltshire (1960-05-24) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Photographing industry & transport
Harold Wingham's aerial photography included the recording of industrial buildings and transport infrastructure.
Many of the sites had a long history and were closely related to local geography, resources and wartime activities. Several were soon to face uncertain futures.
C and T Harris Bacon Factory, Calne, Wiltshire (1952-05-23) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
This selection of images from the Historic England Archive's Harold Wingham Collection illustrate Harold's exceptional skill at taking photographs of large industrial complexes and transport infrastructure, using a hand-held camera from a fixed-wing light aircraft.
Royal Albert Bridge, River Tamar, Devon and Cornwall (1959-07-24) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash, Cornwall
Completed in 1859, the Royal Albert Bridge carries the railway over the River Tamar between Plymouth, Devon and Saltash, Cornwall. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and is still in daily operation.
31 July 1959
Severn Railway Bridge, Hinton, Gloucestershire (1958-05-04) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Severn Railway Bridge, Sharpness, Gloucestershire
The bridge opened in 1879 to bring coal from the Forest of Dean for export out of Sharpness Docks, seen at the top of the picture. Sadly in October 1960, two oil tankers collided in thick fog and then severely damaged the bridge, which was demolished by 1970.
4 May 1958
Falmouth Docks, Falmouth, Cornwall (1959-07-31) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Falmouth Docks, Cornwall
The docks were opened in 1861 and the port's greatest asset is its deep and sheltered harbour. Once it was regarded as the 'First and Last Port' for ships crossing the Atlantic. In 2022, the docks handled all types of vessels from fishing vessels to warships.
31 July 1959
New Dock, Sharpness, Gloucestershire (1951-05-24) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
New Docks, Sharpness, Gloucestershire
As trade increased, the New Docks were opened in 1874, thus avoiding vessels having to go up the congested canal to Gloucester Docks to unload cargoes of mainly timber and grain. It is still a working port importing fertiliser and cement, and exporting scrap steel.
24 May 1951
The ship SS Ramses II aground in the Severn Estuary off Sharpness, Gloucestershire (1951-05-24) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Shipwreck: Ramses II, River Severn, Gloucestershire
On Good Friday 23 March 1951, the Egyptian steamship Ramses II was bound for Sharpness with 7,000 tons of Russian grain when she ran aground on a sandbank off Lydney. She was a total loss and her ghostly outline is still visible from above at very low tides.
24 May 1951
King Harry Ferry, River Fal, Feock, Cornwall (1959-07-31) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
King Harry Ferry, Feock, Cornwall
Seen here in the foreground is the chain operated ferry crossing the River Fal. Opened in 1888, it connects the Roseland peninsular to the rest of Cornwall. The number of ships laid up in the river are often seen as a good measure of world economic health.
31 July 1959
Moreton Valence Airfield, Haresfield, Gloucestershire (1958-05-04) by Harold WingamHistoric England
Haresfield Aerodrome, Gloucestershire
A Second World War military airfield, which closed in 1962. It was the home of RAF Moreton Valence and the top secret Meteor jet aircraft was tested here in 1943. The site was divided by the M5 motorway in the 1970s and much of the remainder reverted to farmland.
4 May 1958
Cropthorne Mill, Cropthorne, Worcestershire (1958-06-15) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Cropthorne Mill, Fladbury, Worcestershire
This late 18th century or early 19th century, brick built, corn mill was operated until about 1930. It lies on the Fladbury side of the River Avon but takes its name from the parish opposite. The lock in the foreground allows vessels to navigate past the weir.
15 June 1958
Grain silo, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire (1951-06-21) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Government Grain Silo, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
During the Second World War, grain silos were built at strategic locations to help manage the nation's food supply. Grain was transported using the existing rail network. Visible in the background is Holy Trinity Church, where William Shakespeare lies buried.
21 June 1951
Wheal Martyn China Clay Works, Treverbyn, Cornwall (1959-07-31) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Wheal Martyn China Clay Works, St Austell, Cornwall
Cornwall’s largest mining industry is the extraction of china clay for use in paper manufacture, ceramics and pharmaceuticals. The waste mountains from 250 years of working have created a 'moonscape' on earth, sometimes referred to as the 'Cornish Alps'.
31 July 1959
Huntsman's Quarry, Naunton, Gloucestershire (1960-07-24) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Naunton Quarry, Naunton, Gloucestershire
Previously known as Chalk Hill and then Huntsman's Quarry, the quarry has been operating since the early 1900s supplying limestone aggregates for use primarily in road making and the building industry. By the 2020s the annual output was 500,000 tonnes.
24 July 1960
Cam Mills, Cam, Gloucestershire (1961-05-10) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Cam Mills, Cam, Gloucestershire
In 2022, this is one of only two woollen cloth mills still operating in the Stroud area, compared to more than 150 in the 19th century. It still produces the finest green baize cloth used in all the televised snooker championships, and yellow tennis ball coverings.
10 May 1961
RA Lister and Co, Dursley, Gloucestershire (1961-05-10) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
R A Lister & Co Factory, Dursley, Gloucestershire
Lister was Dursley's biggest employer for more than a hundred years and the works stretched for more than half a mile. In 1929 the firm started production of their renowned diesel engines, which found applications in many industries and all parts of the globe.
10 May 1961
British Nylon Spinners, Brockworth, Gloucestershire (1961-06-14) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
British Nylon Spinners Factory, Brockworth, Gloucestershire
This large factory complex had been making aero engines until acquired in 1959 to meet the growing demand for man-made fibres. Despite several changes in ownership, specialist nylon and other plastic products were still being manufactured here in 2022.
14 June 1961
Rotol Airscrews factory, Staverton, Churchdown, Gloucester (1953-06-27) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Rotol Factory, Churchdown, Gloucestershire
Two famous companies, Rolls-Royce and Bristol Engines, formed Rotol Airscrews in 1937 to develop and manufacture propellers. Their purpose built factory, near Staverton Airport, produced more than 100,000 airscrew units by the end of the Second World War.
27 June 1953
Wood Norton Hall, Norton and Lenchwick, Worcestershire (1951-05-21) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Wood Norton Hall, Norton and Lenchwick, Worcestershire
This Victorian mansion was home to the Duke of Orleans, a pretender to the French throne. Secret emergency BBC broadcasting studios were located here during the Second World War and the Cold War, along with the BBC's Engineering Training Department.
21 May 1951
Berkeley Nuclear Power Station, Gloucestershire (1959-07-09) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Berkeley Nuclear Power Station, Gloucestershire
Berkeley was the world's second commercial nuclear power station and is shown here midway through construction beside the River Severn. In the centre are the two massive reactor buildings. It could supply enough electricity to serve a city the size of Bristol.
6 July 1959
Birdlip Radio Station, Shab Hill, Cowley, Gloucestershire (1951-06-01) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Birdlip Radio Station, Shab Hill, Cowley, Gloucestershire
This was a Second World War radio station that was used after the war for air traffic control. There was an extensive network of aerials covering two fields. The main station buildings and two aerial masts remained in 2022, used by several security firms.
1 June 1951
Rayford Caravan Park, Tiddington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire (1951-05-21) by Harold WinghamHistoric England
Tiddington Caravan Park, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
There is still a holiday park in 2022 in this delightful setting alongside the River Avon, albeit with chalets and glamping pods as well as caravans now fully occupying the site. Several fields show evidence of the method of ploughing known as 'ridge and furrow'.
21 May 1951
This story has been co-created by Ray Wilson and the Historic England Archive. Images have been selected from the Harold Wingham Collection of Aerial Photographs cared for by the Historic England Archive. You can find out more about Harold Wingham and the collection at our dedicated collections page.
The Historic England Archive would like to express its thanks to Richard Savage, Michael Hare and Ray Wilson for their kind co-operation and their efforts to commemorate and celebrate the work of Harold Wingham.
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