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Image: A view from the air of the settlement of Sawakin on the Red Sea coast of Sudan, photographed by Colonel H.E. Hebbert in August 1930. (RCMS 120/1/1/21)

The RCS collections contain some fine photographic panoramas, several of which have already been digitised. Please refer to the RCS Digital gallery of towns and cities to view these online; also to Cambridge Digital Library, where you can find more using the search term: panorama, or panoramic. Aerial photography in Digitial Library can usually be located by using the search term: aerial.

Nine spectacular panoramas have recently been professionally conserved - six depicting views of Hong Kong and the Kowloon Peninsula, one of Macau and one of Canton (Guangzhou) at the start of the twentieth century. The largest of the panoramas is of Medicine Hat, Alberta, taken in 1913.

For more information on their conservation, and to view digital images of the panoramas, please see the Special Collections blog ‘Historic Hong Kong’ post.

To view a catalogue of the photographic panoramas of Hong Kong, Canton, and Macau, classmark: Y30383A,  click here.

To view the catalogue description of the panorama of Medicine Hat, Y306863A, click here.

The panoramas may all be viewed in the Manuscripts Reading Room, but it is advisable to contact the RCS librarian to organise viewing of the Medicine Hat panorama as it is over two metres long. We recommend you view it online

The RCS photographic collections also hold some fascinating aerial photographs.  The best way to search for these is to use Janus and to select Advanced Search and restrict search to: Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Collections.  Then enter the keyword: aerial. 

These include the collections of Sir Frederick Tymms, the 'Flying Civil Servant' and you can link to some of his photographs and cinefilms in the following SAALG blog post - click here.

To search for panoramic views generally in the the RCS archival and photographic collections, use Janus and select Advanced Search and restrict your search to: Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Collections.  Then enter the keyword: panorama or panoramic.

There are also some fine painted panoramas and views in the Royal Commonwealth Society collections which may be discovered using Janus. Again select Advanced Search, restrict search to: Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Collections, and use search-term: art work.  Many of these have been digitised and may be viewed on Cambridge Digital Library, where it is possible to zoom in to view them in great detail. A striking example is the Panorama of Bombay (RCMS 85) by Thomas Wingate, taken from the top of Sir Jenisedjie Jeejeebhoy's house.

Contact us

Please address enquiries about RCS holdings to:

Rachel Rowe, Smuts Librarian for South Asian and Commonwealth Studies
Cambridge University Library
West Road


Please note the Librarian is part-time and usually works at the University Library on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Rachel may be reached by phone on Wednesdays and Thursdays on +44(0)1223 333146, but it is preferable to email details of your enquiry.

If your enquiry concerns a valuation, please note that we are unable to provide valuations.  We recommend you contact a specialist antiquarian bookseller or auction house.