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Monthly Archives: October 2010

We have recently been working on a boundary dispute case involving an illegal extension, and much of the case had been built on the ‘evidence’ of Google Earth aerial photos, using the very cool time slider (have a look, it is great!).  But what we thought was an “open and shut case” actually ended up being far more complicated, because of the Google Earth data.  The dispute was in an area in London where there are several date of aerial photography available.  The 2003 photo showed no extension, but the 2006 photo showed it – sounds simple enough until you view the 1999 and 2002 photo, both of which clearly show the extension. One might assume it was demolished and rebuilt, but the answer is far simpler.  the 2003 photo was in fact taken in 2001.  To compound the problem it was claimed the extension was built in 2001, so why was it on the 1999 photo?  It transpires that the 1999 photo is the same aerial photo as the 2002 photo, which is dated correctly.  Confused…we were!

If you go to Google Earth and find the Gherkin in Central London then open the time slider you can watch the tower going through various stages of construction, in the wrong order!  Google Earth and  Bing Maps are fantastic resources and we have all lost hours just cruising around the globe looking for past holiday destinations and where our grandparents lives. But be aware that the dates and other information offered by Google (and Bing) are not always to be relied on.  The detail within the photos can also have been altered in the process of putting the data together; Photoshop is an amazing tool…so be warned!  Use Google Earth (and Google Maps for what they are intended, which is not legal disputes!

Our advice is to always use aerial photos from a source that can verify the photo for you. is the obvious place as we have the most on offer!


More than 100,000 aerial photographs have been added to the Old Aerial Photos online collection of historically important images following an agreement with Land & Property Services (Northern Ireland) to supply the entire Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI) photographic archive. The newly available archive includes complete countrywide coverage from 2002 onwards together with a vast array of mainly urban areas dating back to the 1950’s. With scales ranging from 1:20,000 up to 1:3,000 visitors to will be able to view and download images to help with boundary or property disputes, site investigation, historical research or genealogical studies.

“We hope that this agreement will encourage greater uptake and use of our vast historical archive,” commented Philip Goss, Copyright and Contract Manager at Land & Property Services. “Bluesky, who manage Old Aerial Photos, has an excellent reputation as an experienced supplier of historical imagery and already hold the largest archive of historical imagery in the UK. This agreement will build on this position and will further help Bluesky grow their immense archive making them a one stop shop for aerial photography in Britain and Northern Ireland.” Philip added, “Aerial photography was first used as a source for mapping information in 1958 following a decision to create a new map reference system, the Irish Grid, which would enable seamless coverage of the Country, More recently air photography has also been used for the generation of various products including orthophotography, a seamless detailed scaled photograph of Northern Ireland.”

Visitors to can already search through more than a million aerial photos dating back as far as 1917 by simply entering a postcode, address or grid reference. Detailed search results, including the age and ground coverage, of every image that matches the search criteria are displayed and the visitor can choose to purchase either a hard copy print or digital image file.

Photos that are available to purchase from include some of the earliest commercial aerial survey images, military photography from World War II and many national archives. Offering a record of most major UK cities and towns, transport and utility infrastructure and commercial property developments, the images are an invaluable resource for anyone with a personal or professional interest in local studies, genealogy, boundary disputes, environmental land use research or town planning.