Aerial photographs bring to life early tax maps

Cheshire’s historic past is being unearthed using new aerial survey imagery matched to historic land use maps, held by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.

The aerial data, supplied by Bluesky and Getmapping as part of the Aerial Photography for Great Britain (APGB) contract with the Geospatial Commission, is providing a modern day context for 19th Century Tithe Maps.

Now available online, visitors to  can search by place, person or plot and discover detailed information about land ownership, occupation and use. 

“Being able to include the contemporary aerial photography within the Tithe maps online web service allows users to compare and contrast the mid-nineteenth century maps with the modern landscape. This is a valuable resource for historic research and genealogical studies,” commented David Matthews, GIS Officer of Cheshire Shared Services. “The fact the imagery is available at no cost to the Council was a driving force in this development.”

The most up to date aerial photography, captured by Bluesky and Getmapping and supplied to Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council, can be viewed online alongside earlier aerial photography datasets as well as modern and historic Ordnance Survey mapping. These datasets provide context and change information for the digitised Tithe Maps. The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 established a procedure whereby tithes, previously paid by goods or produce, could be converted to money. This required the accurate mapping of all land parcels within a parish.

The APGB aerial photography is also being made available within Cheshire’s desktop Geographical Information System (GIS) and public facing web mapping application.

“Having the APGB air photos available to the wider council via our desktop GIS and the public via our Public Map Viewer is also hugely beneficial,” continued Matthews. “The currency, detail and accuracy of the data ensure a range of applications and users can now access, at no cost, the best available information.”

Data covered by the APGB agreement, including high resolution aerial photography (12.5 and 25 centimetre) for the whole of Great Britain, is available free-at-the-point-of-use, to local government users across England and Wales. (Additional charges may be incurred for users in Scotland.) Additional data that is covered by the contract includes 5 metre Digital Terrain and 2 metre Digital Surface Models (DTM/DSM) and 50 centimetre Colour Infrared imagery. 

Eligible organisations can access the data via a secure Web Mapping Services (WMS).                                               

Website Bluesky

Website Getmapping

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