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  • Writer's picturePeter Berthoud

The Air-Photo Atlas of London of 1949

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

In 1949 Phoenix House Ltd. published their Air-Photo Atlas of London.

Air-Photo Atlas of London, Phoenix House (1949) Front Cover

The aerial maps provide a "street guide from the air" to post-war London. In many of the maps you can see the recent scars of bomb damage and destruction.


The Air-Photo Atlas also shows numerous places of of interest including, museums, clubs, plaques, memorials and statues. The cover boast that these can be found "in colour" may disappoint a modern reader. The only colours used in the maps are red for street names and yellow for points of interest.


The Atlas contains 14 maps and 6 "Oblique Air Photos" or aerial views. Around a decade ago I wrote a very short blog post suggesting that the atlas was the "Google Maps of the 1940s".


In that post I included a couple of the maps and two of the photos. Today I find myself with a bit more time, a little more patience and a better scanner, so for the first time anywhere this new post includes every map and all the photos plus the Central London Bus Route Map from the back cover.


At the bottom of this post there is also a link to the complete index and introductory notes.


Click on any image for a larger version

The Key Map

The Key Map



Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross - "Northumberland Avenue leads straight ahead".

Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross - "Northumberland Avenue leads straight ahead".


Map Page 5, North: Covent Garden Market, East: Savoy Hotel, South: Northumberland Avenue West: National Gallery.

Map Page 5, North: Covent Garden Market, East: Savoy Hotel, South: Northumberland Avenue West: National Gallery.


Strand and Waterloo Bridge - "The new Waterloo Bridge, white and clean, stands out"

Strand and Waterloo Bridge - "The new Waterloo Bridge, white and clean, stands out".


Map Page 6, Aldwych, North: Kingsway, East: Royal Courts of Justice, South: Waterloo Bridge West: Lyceum.

Map Page 6, Aldwych, North: Kingsway, East: Royal Courts of Justice, South: Waterloo Bridge West: Lyceum.


Aldwych to the River - "The Ship is Scott's Discovery"

Aldwych to the River - "The Ship is Scott's Discovery".


Map Page 7, North: Fleet Street, East: Blackfriars Bridge, South: Thames West: Middle Temple.

Map Page 7, North: Fleet Street, East: Blackfriars Bridge, South: Thames West: Middle Temple.


St. Paul's Cathedral - The original caption doesn't mention the obvious and massive bomb damage around St. Paul's.

St. Paul's Cathedral - The original caption doesn't mention the obvious and massive bomb damage around St. Paul's.


Map Page 8, North & East: St. Paul's,South: Thames West: Blackfriars Bridge.

Map Page 8, North & East: St. Paul's, South: Thames West: Blackfriars Bridge.


Map Page 9, North: Cheapside, East: Bank Junction, South: Thames West: Friday Street.

Map Page 9, North: Cheapside, East: Bank Junction, South: Thames West: Friday Street.


Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House - Bank Junction.

Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House - Bank Junction.


Map Page 10, North: Stock Exchange, East: Leadenhall Market, South: Eastcheap, West: Bank Junction.

Map Page 10, North: Stock Exchange, East: Leadenhall Market, South: Eastcheap, West: Bank Junction.


Map Page 11, North: Houndsditch, East: Minories, South: Port of London Authority, West: St. Mary Axe.

Map Page 11, North: Houndsditch, East: Minories, South: Port of London Authority, West: St. Mary Axe.


Map Page 12, North: Eastcheap, East: Cutom House, South: London Bridge Station, West: Southwark Cathedral.

Map Page 12, North: Eastcheap, East: Custom House, South: London Bridge Station, West: Southwark Cathedral.


Tower of London

Tower of London


Map Page 13, Tower of London, North: Port of London Authority, East: Tower Bridge, South: Thames, West: Mincing Lane.

Map Page 13, Tower of London, North: Port of London Authority, East: Tower Bridge, South: Thames, West: Mincing Lane.


Map Page 14, Lincoln's Inn Fields, North: Gray's Inn, East: Chancery Lane, South: Royal Courts of Justice, West: Kingsway.

Map Page 14, Lincoln's Inn Fields, North: Gray's Inn, East: Chancery Lane, South: Royal Courts of Justice, West: Kingsway.


Map Page 15, North: Hatton Garden, East: Holborn Viaduct, South: Fleet Street, West: Staple Inn.

Map Page 15, North: Hatton Garden, East: Holborn Viaduct, South: Fleet Street, West: Staple Inn.


Map Page 16, North: West Smithfield, East: St. Martins Le Grand, South: St. Paul's, West: Ludgate Circus.

Map Page 16, North: West Smithfield, East: St. Martins Le Grand, South: St. Paul's, West: Ludgate Circus.


Map Page 17, North: London Wall, East: Moorgate, South: Cheapside, West: Foster Lane.

Map Page 17, North: London Wall, East: Moorgate, South: Cheapside, West: Foster Lane.


Map Page 18, North & East: Liverpool Street Station, South: Threadneedle Street, West: Moorgate.

Map Page 18, North & East: Liverpool Street Station, South: Threadneedle Street, West: Moorgate.


The Back Cover: "Bus Route Map of Central London Specially drawn for the Air-Photo Atlas of London."

The Back Cover: "Bus Route Map of Central London Specially drawn for the Air-Photo Atlas of London."



The subtitle of the Atlas is "No. 1: Tower to Trafalgar Square", I have never seen any subsequent volumes. If I ever find one or more, I'll publish them here.


This copy of the atlas originally belonged to my Grandfather, who bought it new. He was an Air Raid Warden in London during World War II. His eldest daughter, my Aunt, was also a member of the Civil Defence Service working as a Fire-Watcher, her "Spotting Station" was the roof of Shell Mex House.


To open the complete index and introductory notes in a new tab, please click on the image below.




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