Newly released photos from Cambridge University’s Collection of Aerial Photography show the extent to which Britain has changed in the years since the end of the Second World War

The collection is the result of aerial survey campaigns started by RAF veteran JK St Joseph in 1947.

A keen historian, Joseph was convinced that aerial photography would be useful in discovering and analysing archaeological sites, so he instructed RAF pilots to take photographs during routine flights around the country.

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The collection now holds almost 500,000 images, of which around 80,000 have been digitised and are available to view on the University of Cambridge’s digital library.

Professor Martin Millett says that the collection “lets you travel back in time to a Britain that no longer exists.” The Cambridge archaeologist adds that “anyone can go to Google Earth and look at modern satellite imagery – but this is an historical Google Earth.”

Here The Independent has collected some of the best from the online collection in the gallery above.