South Kensington From Above

South Kensington from above

Aerial photograph of the South Kensington area

Aerial photograph of the South Kensington area, August 1944 
Copyright: English Heritage (NMR) RAF Photography

Maps or aerial photographs are invaluable tools to understand the layout of an area. Here in this section you will find a selection of both, charting the development of South Kensington and the Exhibition Road Cultural Quarter, from c.1856 up to the present day.


The area began as a green suburb of London, populated by just a few houses. Everything changed after the phenomenal success of the Great Exhibition of 1851, located just to the north of the site. With the proceeds from the exhibition 86 acres of land between Kensington Gardens and Cromwell Road were purchased for educational use.

Over the next 50 years the area developed into a unique cultural centre with national museums, arts and sciences institutions, and a university. A vibrant hive of building activity, resulting in the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria And Albert Museum), the Natural History Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, and Imperial College, all of which can be seen in the aerial views.

Exhibition Road Cultural Group

The legacy of the Great Exhibition, and Prince Albert's vision of one location for the learned and artistic societies of Britain, was reinforced in 2003 when the Exhibition Road Cultural Group (ERCG) was formed. 16 internationally renowned arts, cultural and learning institutions have come together to champion the area and collaborate on projects. This includes the current transformation of Exhibition Road, working to partially pedestrianise the area by 2012.