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Silverstone Google Earth Imagery - Is it definitely 1945?


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#1 Ben1445

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 15:32

The Google Earth historical imagery of Silverstone has puzzled me for some time. The date given is 1945, written as 12/1945 on the toolbar perhaps indicating it was December. However, I believe on closer inspection that this is not the case. I think it's later.

 

The aerial photo in question, listed as 1945.

 

RAF_Silverstone_1945_zps3ba9d3a8.png

 

From what I have read, RAF Silverstone remained operational until 1947 and was used by No.17 Operational Training Unit with Wellington bombers. After this time, the RAF stopped using it. 

The first racing to take place at the site was by a group of locals in late 1947 and the first sanctioned races in late 1948 by the Royal Automobile Club, who took out a lease on the circuit, and were organised by James Wilson Brown. 

 

In the imagery, the absence of any planes in the dispersal bays seems to suggest that it was not in use by the RAF and therefore post 1945. Furthermore, there are tyre marks on the runway surfaces on the route of the first Silverstone layouts to suggest it has been in use for racing. 

 

Silverstone1948_zps6ec49708.gif

 

Original circuit layout at Silverstone

 

copse1945_zpsde7e5ad5.png

 

Copse corner, showing clear tyre marks following a racing line
 

Seamanseagrave1945_zps7e25a7b6.png

 

Runway crossover, showing signs of use at the Seaman and Seagrave corners.

 

Magbakchap1945_zps06fa989d.png

 

The Maggots Beckets Chapel section, again showing clear tyre marks and also a possible temporary grandstand on the outer edge of the peri-track.

 

start1945_zps87f35ce9.png

 

The link between Abbey and Woodcote, the original start line, showing signs of a footbridge and grandstand, as well as a faint line on the inside edge which could be temporary pit structures which I believe would have been scaffold.

 

Basically, there seems to be significant evidence of use as a racing venue, which did not happen until 1947.

 

Also, this image from 1949 gives us further information. 

 

Silverstone1949_zps6a643e71.png

 

This is very clearly  showing marks of the revised layout used in 1949. This shows the Google Earth imagery must be before this time.

 

I therefore think that the image listed as 1945 was actually taken sometime between 1947 and 1948. I have emailed Google about this a couple of times but never received any response, so I thought I would share it here. I hope it is interesting and if anyone has any other information on the matter, then great! 


Edited by Ben1445, 19 December 2013 - 15:50.


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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 16:54

The Ordnance Survey's aerial survey of Britain, carried out by the RAF, from which I believe this picture comes, was undertaken between the years 1947 and 1953, with the majority of pictures taken in 1947-48. The same picture is available on the website of ukaerialphotos.com who state that their pictures for that period - which they loosely define as 1945-50 - are those taken for the OS.



#3 tsrwright

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 02:34

Interesting bit of digging up. I used to live near there in the '70s and it intrigued me that the 1" OS map had footpaths and other rights of way charging across the circuit. I suppose they have been done away with but I noticed a notice at Shelsley Walsh recently where a right of way was suspended for the duration of the event. Maybe they did that at Silverstone, maybe nobody bothered.

#4 Allan Lupton

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 09:17

Interesting bit of digging up. I used to live near there in the '70s and it intrigued me that the 1" OS map had footpaths and other rights of way charging across the circuit. I suppose they have been done away with but I noticed a notice at Shelsley Walsh recently where a right of way was suspended for the duration of the event. Maybe they did that at Silverstone, maybe nobody bothered.

My 1946 printing of 6th series 1" OS sheet 146 shows everything as it was before someone built the airfield.

That was normal, even for the 7th series, for what might be called military reasons and could be very confusing when the roads marked on the map had been closed to make way for the airfield - didn't happen at Silverstone but there's a good example at Benson in Oxfordshire where the old course of the A415 (now A4130) over Beggarsbush Hill, although marked as a yellow road on the map, still had its main road signage in place well into the 1960s which confused us rallyists.



#5 BRG

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 20:53

The OS practice of pretending that military installations didn't exist went on right to the end of the 1 inch days and into the metric 2cm/km era.  I did the Tour of Lincs one year in the 70s and one stage at Newton-by-Toft showed up as a blank on the map but there was a large airfield or army base there with tarmac and concrete roads. Made it hard to navigate through the stage.... 



#6 tsrwright

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:07

The OS practice of pretending that military installations didn't exist went on right to the end of the 1 inch days and into the metric 2cm/km era.

 

Tom Tom still does it, particularly with reservoirs ...



#7 Mistron

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:07

How do you find the historical info / photos on Google earth?

 

Many thanks,

 

Al



#8 Les

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:18

How do you find the historical info / photos on Google earth?

 

Many thanks,

 

Al

 

On Google Earth, Clock tab at top (Clock icon with arrow pointing back) then use slider to move back, over Silverstone (for example) you can see overhead pictures dating back to "1945".



#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:26

Interesting bit of digging up. I used to live near there in the '70s and it intrigued me that the 1" OS map had footpaths and other rights of way charging across the circuit. I suppose they have been done away with but I noticed a notice at Shelsley Walsh recently where a right of way was suspended for the duration of the event.

Probably a 'permissive path' rather than a full right of way.

 

http://en.wikipedia....Permissive_path

 

http://www.outdoorsw...ermissive-paths

 

See also my post re Wellington College's Boundary Day:

http://forums.autosp...-2#entry5635038



#10 tsrwright

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:59

Probably a 'permissive path' rather than a full right of way.

 

Maybe today at Shelsley but not then at Silverstone.

 

Amazingly I found my 1968 Sheet 146 (Price 8/-) and all being well I can post several images of it.

 

You will see the circuit is crossed by one bridle path and two footpaths both being rights of way which should have been on the statutory maps.

 

(Says to himself: 'Now post this before it gets lost while looking for the pictures')

 

Aha ...

 

IMG_0643.JPG

 

And  ... sorry its so big

 

IMG_0644.JPG


Edited by tsrwright, 31 December 2013 - 11:07.


#11 Vitesse2

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 12:39

Ah, yes - but on your second image you can just see the beginning of the OS's standard - and totally contradictory - disclaimer that "The representation of any road or track on this map is no evidence of the existence of a right of way."

 

That path was probably there when they compiled the 6-inch 'County' series in the early part of the century and would have been faithfully carried over in subsequent editions. In the absence of any official documentation saying "this is no longer a right of way" that's just what they did. The OS offices in Southampton were bombed in 1940 and - for obvious reasons - they didn't do much in the way of civilian surveying for ten years: that's why they instituted the aerial survey. From memory, they had begun a complete re-survey in the mid-30s, but it was by no means complete by 1939.

 

Somewhere in a dusty file in the Buckinghamshire and/or Northants record offices there will probably be an order revoking the right of way, dating from about 1942-43. In the fog of war I doubt anybody thought about copying it to OS. On that later - and pretty high-definition - photo, I see no evidence of a footpath across the site. But that pre-dates your map by nearly 20 years. If you could dig out an old 6-inch, you'd probably find that path follows a now obliterated field boundary.

 

Definitive Rights of Way maps were always maintained by local councils: what you really need to find is the 1929 'handover map', compiled when the responsibility for rights of way was transferred from Rural District Councils to County Councils.

 

OS maps were always good, but by no means perfect. Back in the 70s I remember pitching up in a Yorkshire village after a walk expecting to find a pub there - as marked on the latest OS 1:50000 map. No pub. Interrogation of an elderly local revealed it had shut in about 1935!



#12 tsrwright

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 00:35

It actually says public paths are derived from Defintive Maps as of 1 October 1967 (as amended in part by enactments or instruments) and other paths shown are not evidence of a right of way. The disclaimer you quote must be later.

Possibly the Defintive Map was not up to date but surely it was created postwar under the national parks and access to the countryside act? Or did that merely embrace current legislation?

I am sure wartime legislation would have suspended any rights of way but I doubt that would have applied to land returned to private ownership.

I wonder about other airfield circuits?

Happy new year!

Edited by tsrwright, 01 January 2014 - 05:27.


#13 Alan Baker

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 15:08

Google Earth's historical imagery dates are highly suspect. Over Christmas I was staying with my brother in Pershore, Worcestershire not far from the former RAF Defford. Google Earth's "1945" imagery covers the area but Defford airfield (built in 1943) is nowhere to be seen! Clearly the Silverstone images are post 1945, but the Defford image is clearly pre 1943.



#14 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 15:44

Google Earth's historical imagery dates are highly suspect. Over Christmas I was staying with my brother in Pershore, Worcestershire not far from the former RAF Defford. Google Earth's "1945" imagery covers the area but Defford airfield (built in 1943) is nowhere to be seen! Clearly the Silverstone images are post 1945, but the Defford image is clearly pre 1943.

Defford was still an operational base in the early 1950s - and pretty hush-hush too. The aerial survey pictures were originally available for public consultation: you could actually look at them in major libraries - and even buy copies! But as the Cold War hotted up, some of the pictures were doctored, in order to disguise sensitive defence and research establishments. The pictures were eventually completely withdrawn in 1954. Scroll down to the bottom of this link, which has examples of the original and doctored versions of Prestwick:

 

http://maps.nls.uk/o...hotos/info.html

 

edit: I've just checked Biggin Hill on Google Earth. It's not on the 1945 imagery either!


Edited by Vitesse2, 04 January 2014 - 16:01.


#15 tsrwright

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 07:24

I am not sure if the above discussion covers this archive:
 

http://www.english-h...ain-from-above/



#16 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 09:17

No, it won't, Terry. The Aerofilms ones are obliques, whereas the OS ones were taken using the same techniques and equipment as the RAF had used for stereoscopic reconnaissance pictures over Europe during the war.

 

Interestingly, Aerofilms does include a picture of Prestwick Airport, taken in 1947. But nothing of Biggin Hill aerodrome.