A fascinating glimpse into Harrogate's historic past from a bird's eye view

Historic images of Harrogate’s bygone days have come to life again through a new collection of images made available by Historic England.

By Lucy Chappell
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 10:14 am
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 10:16 am

The Aerial Photography Explorer has been launched allowing the public to search and explore thousands of images from over the past 100 years.

The aerial imagery provides a fascinating insight into the development and expansion of the nation’s towns and cities and the changes to the rural landscape, including the Harrogate district.

Over 400,000 images from 1919 to the present day have been added to the online tool.

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This image of Harrogate town centre in 1949 takes us from the Royal Pump House right out to the green fields which surrounded the town at the time

Around 300,000 of the photographs are the work of Historic England’s Aerial Investigation and Mapping team.

The remaining 100,000 images come from the Historic England Archive aerial photography collection, which numbers over two million images in total, and includes important historic photography, including interwar and post-war images from Aerofilms Ltd and The Royal Air Force.

Some of the images of the Harrogate district date back to the early 1920s, offering us the glimpse of a much more sedate life with far fewer cars and more open fields.

This image shows the calm, car-less scene of Christ Church in 1949

By opening up these images to the public through the accessible online tool, Historic England hopes that people will use it to research their own local areas, offering an insight into a century of changes and development.

This will allow them to potentially make their own discoveries about their local areas.

It will also provide industry professionals and local authorities with a useful resource to help planning, heritage projects and archaeological investigation.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive at Historic England, said: “Our new online tool will allow people to access easily our wonderful collection of aerial images to unlock the mysteries of England’s past.”

This image shows Skipton Road without the Empress Roundabout taken in 1921

Over the coming years, Historic England aims to expand the platform, as more of the six million aerial images in Historic England Archive are digitised.