DURSLEY has become one of the first rural places in the country to have 3D images of local buildings placed on Google Earth, thanks to an architect with a passion for local history.

John Wilkes has spent the last two months painstakingly designing three dimensional images of buildings around Dursley on his computer, 10 of which have been placed onto Google Earth.

The 3D images pop up when you scan over Dursley so you can look all around the buildings and find out about their history.

Just a few cities in the country have these 3D images on Google, including Gloucester, but barely any small towns and villages have facility.

"It is really like a modern version of a tourism guide," said Mr Wilkes, a self-employed architect.

"I got the idea after looking at San Francisco on Google Earth. It has the whole city in 3D and I thought that looks great, why don’t I do it for Dursley?"

Mr Wilkes, who has worked all over the world as an architect since graduating from Bristol university in 1970, has made models of buildings including Dursley town hall, The Towers which is now The Woodlands retirement homes, Dursley Tabernacle Church and Raglan House. It takes him around four hours to complete each model and so far he has done 40 separate models.

"I have enjoyed doing it enormously," said Mr Wilkes, 62. "You don’t realise how many beautiful buildings there are in the area until you start looking. There are some real hidden gems.

"I have also learnt a lot about the history of Dursley. When you click on each model it will come up with the date it was built and some general information about it.

"I see this as a modern tourism guide and I hope it will really promote Dursley."

Mr Wilkes creates the models on a free Google download called SketchUp, but says his knowledge and skills as an architect has helped in the design stages. He takes photos of the buildings then draws them on the computer programme by eye. He then pastes the photos on the outside of the building to make it look realistic and sends the designs to Google for approval.

To view the 3D buildings, type Dursley into Google Earth and on the left hand tool bar enable the 3D model tool. Alternatively you can see all 40 designs on Mr Wilke’s website http://www.awdt59.dsl.pipex.com/dursley.htm