Plan of the Kensington Gore estate, 1935
Copyright: Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851
Aerial photograph of the South Kensington area, 1935
Copyright: Reproduced by permission of English Heritage. NMR
By 1935 the area was almost bursting with arts and science institutions. The lower half of the estate was dominated by science. Firstly in the form of the Natural History Museum (1), and behind that, with the new Science Museum (2).
Victoria and Albert Museum
To the east of this block the Victoria and Albert Museum (3), representing the applied arts, was by 1935 almost in its current form with its new name. The museum had extended towards Cromwell Road, with the then-recent Aston Webb front (completed in 1909) giving the institution a very strong identity and presence on this busy London road.
Imperial Institute (4) and the University of London had pretty much taken over the whole block between Imperial Institute Road and Prince Consort Road, that formerly covered by the RHS Gardens. The plot in 1935 was awash with different buildings and departments, however, the plan shows that the original idea of a central axis running up the estate was still maintained.
At the top of this central axis lies the Royal Albert Hall (5) and Albert Memorial, as can be clearly seen in the aerial photograph. To have an aerial photograph alongside a map of exactly the same date is extremely useful, helping to put the buildings in context and scale.
National Monuments Record
The oblique aerial photograph of 1944, where the camera is held by hand inside the aeroplane, comes from the National Library of Aerial Photography. This incredibly important collection is held by the National Monuments Record, the public archive of English Heritage.