Aerial Photographs Bring to Life Early Tax Maps in Cheshire, England

Bluesky Cheshire TitheLeicestershire, 05 June 2019 – 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). Once registered, users can download data from a newly created APGB online mapping portal –, or receive the data with delivery on storage media such as hard drive or memory stick.

Bluesky is one of the leading and most successful aerial survey and geographic data companies in the UK producing and maintaining seamless digital aerial photography and height data on a national scale in both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Bluesky operates the worlds most advanced airborne sensor, which comprises vertical and oblique cameras as well as a LiDAR, to create accurate and detailed virtual cities.  Bluesky also operates the only LiDAR system in the world that incorporates a thermal sensor and survey grade camera. These combined with other systems puts Bluesky in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and cost-effective geospatial solutions. As well as being an established and respected aerial survey company Bluesky is also highly innovative and continually strives to develop new products and services by embracing new technology and methods. This has resulted in the development of some unique products such as the National Tree Map (NTM). These datasets underpin long term contracts with local and central governments and many major blue-chip companies from a range of market sectors including financial services, utilities, telecoms, web portals, construction and environment. Bluesky has offices in the UK, US, Republic of Ireland and a dedicated production centre in India.

Getmapping Plc is a leading provider of aerial photography, mobile mapping, LiDAR, digital mapping and web based services across Europe and Africa. Getmapping has offices in Hartley Wintney, UK, Cape Town and Centurion in South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 1999, Getmapping pioneered the concept of nationwide coverage of aerial photography creating the most comprehensive and detailed aerial photographic survey of the UK. Today Getmapping produces its own vertical aerial photography, oblique photography, point-cloud and height data derived from aerial and mobile mapping survey programmes. Getmapping also provide a wide range of value-added mapping services tailored to specific client needs including data hosting and online data delivery. Getmapping services a wide variety of markets including local authorities and central government, property and construction, mining, environmental consultants, press and media, as well as providing planning services to the general public.