These pages contain various images from Heathrow airport, my personal favourite location
Heathrow has a long history, it originated as a settlement called Hitheroe in 1749. An old area of heath land was cleared, and the first aircraft was used in 1919, which was a Converted DH4 bomber. This aircraft began flights to Paris, the aircraft was deemed as being flimsy, as it contained string and fabrics. This aircraft carried one passenger, newspapers, and jars of Devon Cream.
Ten years later a major step forward came when the Fairey Aviation company established premises between the Bath Road, and Great South West Road, this was for the purpose of testing fighters and bombers.
In 1942 a survey was carried out, along with fifty others, and it was considered Transport Command should have a base close to the City of London. This was required for receiving heavy cargo aircraft. Additionally, a survey was carried out with the view to using American B29 Superfortress Bombers.
Heath Row as it was named, was assessed as being the airport of choice due to location, and work began on the runway construction in 1942.
The popular runway design of the time was triangular, and this design was used originally at Heath row. These runways were designed substantially longer than average. When the European conflict finished the airfield was handed over to the Air Force, and a decision was made to turn the airfield into a civil airport, it is thought this decision was made around 13th October 1945. Around four million was spent on developing the airfield, and newspapers reported the costs as being extremely large and over budget.
The runway design was built upon calculations of wind speeds, hence the three directions of the three runways. This is common in the UK for older airfields to have three runways. The runways were 4500ft, and the purpose of three was to allow multiple takeoff or landing aircraft simultaneously. At the center of the airfield lay some 65 acres reserved for future construction. The plan was to use the North side of the airport and Bath Road for future buildings. A British South American Airways corporation Lancastrain capable of carrying thirteen passengers, took off from Heathrow on a proving exercise, and flew to Buenos Aires. Additional services started to Australia by BOAC, and Qantas on the 27th May, and four days later a typical English downpour marked the official opening of Heathrow.
Originally, Heathrow had tented terminal areas. Interestingly the Lancastrain had taken sixty three hours of flying time travelling, from Sydney to Heathrow. In comparison, Qantas now run a daily service, going from Heathrow to Australia in seventeen hours non-stop.
In 1946 it cost £93 to fly from Heathrow to New York, however this was reduced to £80. A one-way BOAC ticket to Singapore cost £170 the annual wage of a working man at that time. July 1st saw BOAC beginning their service to New York, operated with stops, taking around twelve hours of flying time. The most popular aircraft was the L-049 Constellation, which sat forty five and sixty passengers. The pressurized comfort was developed from Howard Hughes, the founder of TWA.
Meanwhile work on Heathrow's development continued, and by 1946 a one-story pre-fabricated building had been erected on the North Side. This was the first terminal, however this was deemed immediately too small as air travel had grown beyond all expectations. It was decided the 65 acres would contain additional terminals, and a control tower. A tunnel was created under Heathrow to allow access for construction workers. The northern runway was temporarily shut so digging could start on building the tunnel. The work was completed in 1952, and additional expansion started, however this created issues as one runway would need shutting permanently, 05-23 was closed and is now used for taxi-ing. The two main runways exist and 09-27L, and 09-27R.
In 1954 Northolt was closed to civilians and European operators started using Heathrow, both Air France and KLM moved with immediate effect. In the last half of 1946, Heathrow saw 2046 aircraft movements, and 63,151. In comparison, 2017 saw 78,000,000 passengers, and 474,033 movements recorded, approximately 1300 hundred movements per day.
The 1960's and 1970's saw more advancement in both aviation technology, and heathrow passenger numbers. Heathrow had been held in contention as room to expand is limited, and obvious debates including today (2018) have seen numerous challenges to this. The third runway option is still in contention. Hopefully Boris will hold his promise and indeed lay down in front of the bulldozers. The cargo terminal opened in 1969, a year after completion of Terminal 1. Terminal 2 was adapted from an original building in 1955, and Terminal 3 became available in 1962. In comparison, major changes at Heathrow has seen Terminals rebuilt, and Terminal 4 and 5 added. An underground subway station was developed in 1977, and Heathrow Central was created. The airport had planned for 100,000 pax a year in 1946, and aviation has exceeded any expectations. The confounding variable of Terminals and Runways remains a contentious issue today.
Heathrow remains a major hub for the United Kingdom, uniting friends, family, businesses from around the world.
Enjoy the modern Aircraft photos of Heathrow, and check out the retro photos in the Aviation collection.