Mapping the Future by Safeguarding the Past

1946 Aerial Photography Demonstration

This page provides an overview of the core work that Mapping Kent are involved with; the digital archiving of the 1946 aerial photographs, kindly made available by Kent County Council. The photographs were taken by the RAF as part of a national survey after the Second World War, to asses the damage inflicted by the conflict.

Please feel free to click on any of the images for a larger view.

Digital Archiving

Mapping Kent’s key aim is to preserve historical artefacts using new techniques and modern technology. By doing so, current and future generations will be able to learn from these valuable resources, opening them up to a new world of previously unseen or unavailable material.

Using digital media to capture and store these items makes distribution far easier, and makes access to fragile or unique items possible.

Mapping Kent has so far worked closely with Kent County Council to access and digitise a small collection of the aerial photographs taken in 1946 of post-war Kent. This collection was used in the Forgotten Frontline exhibition, and shows what can be done with a small range of the material currently available.

The example on the right is of one of the raw images held by KCC, which has been archived. This image, along with the rest of the collection are currently viewable by appointment only.


After making the initial archive copy of the aerial images, a process of enhancement can begin.

Digital image manipulation techniques can be employed to make the amount of visible information increase, which can highlight previously unseen features in the images, uncovering previously unrecorded items of archeological importance on the ground.

For example, during the development of the Forgotten Frontline Exhibition, a number of unknown buildings and other features of the landscape were discovered in the Whitsable collection, including anti-glider defences, road blocks and pillboxes

The image to the left is an excellent example of what can be achieved after applying some of these techniques. The image now displays many features that were not previously obvious when observing the original complete image.

Consequently, the amount of added value that can be achieved from applying these enhancements greatly increases the educational value of these resources.


Finally, by making digital copies of these photographs, it has been possible to manipulate the collection in a way never seen before; creating the first complete area map utilising multiple images.

Mapping Kent have ‘stitched’ the Whitstable collection together to create a complete panorama of the wider Whitstable area, giving a view of the town not seen before.