Pre-World War One

Aerial photography had been practised since the 1850’s, using balloons, kites, rockets, Zeppelins and aeroplanes.

Adelaide Oval from a Balloon State Library of South Australia c1907 - B34765 - Photographer Unknown
Adelaide Oval from a Balloon State Library of South Australia c1907 - B34765 - Photographer Unknown


Post-World War One

The First World War trained many pilots in air photography and improved technology and techniques. At this stage aerial photography required two people in the plane: a pilot and the photographer.

With demobilization after the war, many people with wartime aviation experience became involved in commercial aerial photography.

In the early 1920's, few civilians had seen an aeroplane and aerial photography was still a novelty. However, Tour Guides featuring new and spectacular aerial photos were introduced at this time.

The M.C.G. - Views from an aeroplane of Melbourne and Geelong from photographs by E.C Joshua 1921 SLV  vp1336
The M.C.G. - Views from an aeroplane of Melbourne and Geelong from photographs by E.C Joshua 1921 SLV vp1336


Airspy (1920's-1960s)

Around the world, the first wave of commercial companies specialising in air photography started mainly in the 1920’s and 1930’s. An important early company in air photography in Melbourne was Airspy. Associated with Airspy were three important names.

Geelong Air Service - Pratt Brothers 1922 - Source: Auckland War Memorial Museum - Charles Daniel Pratt - Photographer Unknown
Geelong Air Service - Pratt Brothers 1922 - Source: Auckland War Memorial Museum - Charles Daniel Pratt - Photographer Unknown


William Herbert Hansom was born in England c1862 and came to Australia in the 1880’s. In 1932 a short biography entitled ‘Flying Photographer: Adventures of ‘Airspy’ appeared in a number of Australian Newspapers.1 The article happily introduces us to Hansom:

My profession of aerial photography was begun as a hobby' explained Mr. Hansom. 'For 25 years I devoted all my spare time to photography, and I won many prizes. I began aerial photography seriously about the end of the war when the war pilots were returning home...... Although I could keep a machine in the air if I had to take the pilot's seat, I have never learnt to fly — an aerial photographer must concentrate entirely on the taking of his picture; it is extremely intricate work and I am still learning.'''

The second important name involved with Airspy was Major Harry Turner Shaw (1889-1973), an ex-RAF World War One pilot, and a partner in Ross Aviation Co., Port Melbourne. A number of references link him to the company. The first, a State Library of Victoria photo, has ‘Photograph 1927 Shaw & Hansom’ written on the back (SLV H31615/2). The second, a later 1938 photo in the Bayside Library Service (Brighton) Collection, is described as a panorama of the Ricketts Point area including the mansion ‘The Point’, residence of Major Harry Turner Shaw, the owner of Airspy.2

ˆH.T. Shaw's WW1 kit bag and flying helmet are part of the Museum of Victoria Collectionˆ

Sadly, 1939 saw the death of William Herbert Hansom (c1862-1939).3

The third important name was Charles Daniel Pratt (1892-1968). Pratt was a pilot. He was born in New Zealand and served in the New Zealand Engineers, Signals, Motor Dispatch, and in the Royal Flying Corps. Pratt, who started the war as a Private but rose to Lieutenant, was wounded at Gallipoli. He served briefly in the RAAF in World War Two.4

After World War One, Pratt and his brother moved to Geelong, Victoria and established an aircraft manufacturing works. Connected to the business was a flying school where Charles was the instructor. 5 By 1938, Pratt had moved his flying school from Geelong to Essendon Airport.6

We know that Pratt was a central figure in Airspy, as in 1972 the Estate of Charles Daniel Pratt donated the large ‘Airspy Collection’ of aerial photos to the State Library of Victoria under Charles Pratt's name. It is unclear when Pratt became involved with Airspy. Nor is it clear his involvement was ever as photographer.

A number of Airspy photos exist of football grounds.

Airspy Photos

Brunswick Street Oval (Fitzroy)

Brunswick Street Oval c1925-35 - Source: Airspy collection of aerial photographs H91.160/447 - Out of copyright.
Brunswick Street Oval c1925-35 - Source: Airspy collection of aerial photographs H91.160/447 - Out of copyright.

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/21174 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
Brunswick Street Oval c1925-35 - Source: Airspy collection of aerial photographs H91.160/1758 - Out of copyright.
Brunswick Street Oval c1925-35 - Source: Airspy collection of aerial photographs H91.160/1758 - Out of copyright.

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20253 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


Junction Oval (St Kilda)

Junction Oval c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs ca. 1925-ca. 1935 - SLV H91.160/444
Junction Oval c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs ca. 1925-ca. 1935 - SLV H91.160/444

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/21092 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


Kardinia Park (Geelong) - Pre VFL usage

Kardinia Park 12-2-26 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/788
Kardinia Park 12-2-26 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/788

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/183829 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
Kardinia Park Sept 1937 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/788
Kardinia Park Sept 1937 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/788

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20621 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


M.C.G.

MCG - Airspy collection of aerial photographs c1925-35 - SLV H91.160_441
MCG - Airspy collection of aerial photographs c1925-35 - SLV H91.160_441

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20663 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
MCG 25/11/28 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/446
MCG 25/11/28 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/446

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/21173 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


M.C.G., Punt Road Oval and the MotorDrome

The Motordrome is near the Yarra River, while Punt Road Oval sits close to the more developed MCG.
Airspy collection of aerial photographs c1925-35 - SLV H91.160.439
Airspy collection of aerial photographs c1925-35 - SLV H91.160.439

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20592 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
Airspy collection of aerial photographs Nov 1945 - SLV H91.160/472
Airspy collection of aerial photographs Nov 1945 - SLV H91.160/472

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/21179 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


Port Melbourne Oval

Port Melbourne c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/342
Port Melbourne c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/342

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/27051 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
Port Melbourne c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160_343
Port Melbourne c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160_343

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/27051 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
Port Melbourne c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/344
Port Melbourne c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/344

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/27051 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


Preston City Oval

(Thanks to Neil Saunderson for Identifying this one)
Preston 28Feb1928 - SLV H91_160379 Photographer - Airspy (Cropped Version)
Preston 28Feb1928 - SLV H91_160379 Photographer - Airspy (Cropped Version)
Preston 28Feb1928 - SLV H91.160_379 Photographer - Airspy
Preston 28Feb1928 - SLV H91.160_379 Photographer - Airspy


Victoria Park (Collingwood)

Victoria Park 15/9/29 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/445
Victoria Park 15/9/29 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/445

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20946 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


Western Oval (Footscray)

Western Oval c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/454
Western Oval c1925-35 - Airspy collection of aerial photographs - SLV H91.160/454

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20594 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website




Further Airspy Photos (1950's + )

The Airspy Collection at the State Library of Victoria includes over 1,200 photos. Most of these are digitized and can easily be browsed by typing ‘Airspy’ into the State Library of Victoria Catalogue at http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/.

A number of these images are in copyright and cannot be reproduced here.

Arden Street (North Melbourne) c1950's
See H2008.41/86 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/97889 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website


Other Aerial Photographers

Northern Star - Lismore 21-Jul-1932 p4
Northern Star - Lismore 21-Jul-1932 p4
Other photographers have taken aerial photos of Melbourne, but one in particular is of interest to football followers.

Sir Raymond William Garrett (1900-1994) was a commercial pilot who founded the Victorian Gliding Club in the 1920’s. He had a photography business and later founded a photographic chemical firm. Garrett was Chairman of Ilford (Australia) and a member of Victoria’s Legislative Council from 1958-1976, representing electorates around the Doncaster area.7

There is not a large collection of aerial photos by Garrett, but he caused a scandal in 1932 with low flying over the Lake Oval at South Melbourne. The photos (probably from that flight) were certainly taken from much lower than the Airspy photos.

Junction Oval Australasian 13Aug1932 p.ii Newspaper Collection SLV Photographer:Raymond William Garrett
Junction Oval Australasian 13Aug1932 p.ii Newspaper Collection SLV Photographer:Raymond William Garrett
Lake Oval Australasian 25Jun1932 p.ii Newspaper Collection SLV Photographer:Raymond William Garrett
Lake Oval Australasian 25Jun1932 p.ii Newspaper Collection SLV Photographer:Raymond William Garrett
South Melbourne - Raymond Garrett SLV H98.129_5
South Melbourne - Raymond Garrett SLV H98.129_5

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/217724 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website
South Melbourne - Raymond Garrett - possibly 1932 - SLV H98.129/3
South Melbourne - Raymond Garrett - possibly 1932 - SLV H98.129/3
South Melbourne - possibly 1932 - Raymond Garrett SLV H98.129/6
South Melbourne - possibly 1932 - Raymond Garrett SLV H98.129/6



Land Victoria

The Victorian Government geological survey department, Land Victoria, has a large collection of aerial photos dating back to the 1940's (as well as holding a 1931 R.A.A.F Series), and there are certainly a number of photos of major football grounds in their collection.

Unfortunately there is no comparison with the Airspy photos. The Survey photos are taken from much higher altitudes, and are taken 'straight down' - creating a photo more in common with Google maps than with the 'oblique' Airspy photos.

The Victorian Department of Lands and Survey 1945 Series (from aerial photography taken by Adastra Airways) is available on-line via the University of Melbourne Library. The maps have been collated together into a larger map but are taken from a much higher elevation than the Airspy photos. See
http://www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/collections/maps/historical/1945melb/

Princes Park (Carlton) - Source: Crop and colour adjusted from the Victorian Department of Lands and Survey 1945 - University of Melbourne Library Online Collection
Princes Park (Carlton) - Source: Crop and colour adjusted from the Victorian Department of Lands and Survey 1945 - University of Melbourne Library Online Collection
Glenferrie Oval (Hawthorn) - Source: Crop and colour adjusted from the Victorian Department of Lands and Survey 1945 - University of Melbourne Library Online Collection
Glenferrie Oval (Hawthorn) - Source: Crop and colour adjusted from the Victorian Department of Lands and Survey 1945 - University of Melbourne Library Online Collection


By Unknown Photographers

Alas a number of aerial photos now exist in collections where the photographers' names have been lost. A proportion of these photos are probably attributable to Airspy or to Land Victoria.

Arden Street c1928 North Melbourne Source: Picture Victoria ID:18883 - Photographer Unknown
Arden Street c1928 North Melbourne Source: Picture Victoria ID:18883 - Photographer Unknown


Elsternwick Park 1933 Brighton Source: Picture Victoria ID:19949 - Photographer Unknown
Elsternwick Park 1933 Brighton Source: Picture Victoria ID:19949 - Photographer Unknown


Princes Park Carlton - date unknown - Source:SLV H2011.183 - Photographer Unknown
Princes Park Carlton - date unknown - Source:SLV H2011.183 - Photographer Unknown

See http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/137495 for the original high definition image on the State Library of Victoria Website

Modern Aerial Photography


Google and Aerial Survey

In today's satellite age we think nothing of accessing aerial photos via online services such as Google. Links to various football grounds are listed below:

VFL
Arden Street (North Melbourne)
Brunswick Street Oval (Fitzroy)
Glenferrie Oval (Hawthorn)
Junction Oval (St Kilda)
Kardinia Park (Geelong)
Lake Oval (South Melbourne)
M.C.G. (Melbourne)
Princes Park (Carlton)
Punt Road Oval (Richmond)
Victoria Park (Collingwood)
Western Oval (Footscray)
Windy Hill (Essendon)

VFA
Brunswick Oval
Camberwell Oval
Coburg Oval
Elsternwick Park (Brighton)
Oakleigh Football Ground
Port Melbourne Oval
Preston Oval
Sandringham Oval
Toorak Park (Prahran)
Westgarth Street (Northcote)
Williamstown Oval
Yarraville Oval

Modern Aerial Photography

The technology of today has come a long way from the technology available to the aerial photography pioneers of the 1920's and 1930's. Today, of course, aerial photography is still commonly practised, and we are all familiar with high-soaring videos on television sport that swoop in over a sports ground, providing a sense of how the ground fits into the local landscape.

Diana Snape

At the time of writing, photographer Diana Snape's website includes spectacular colour photos of Melbourne from the air. These include a number of shots of the city's great stadiums. You can view them at http://diannasnape.com.au/cms-aerial/melbourne.phps .




Boyles Website Newsletter

Just us sending out an email when we post a new article.
Image

End Notes


1. Flying Photographer. 1932, October 21. Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser Qld 1922 - 1954, p. 11. Retrieved June 19, 2013, from nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76885977
3. Obituary Mr W.H. HANSOM. 1939, November 8. The Argus Melbourne, Vic. 1848 - 1957, p. 8. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11279255
5. AVIATION NOTES. 1927, November 3. The Register Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929, p. 3. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54933766
6. FLYING SCHOOL. 1939, May 1. The Argus Melbourne, Vic. 1848 - 1957, p. 4. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12123427