Abandoned Aerodromes in London

Heston Aerodrome:

Heston Aerodrome was closed in 1947, but saw to regularly international and domestic flights during the 1920s and 1930s.

Heston Aerodrome also played much political and strategic importance. As RAF Northolt was the airport of choice for Prime Ministers such as David Cameron and Theresa May on emergency trips to Brussels and other destinations, Heston Aerodrome was the RAF Northolt of its day.

Former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew from Heston Airport to Berlin for negotiations with Adolf Title in 1938, famously making his “Peace something time” Speech from Heston Aerodrome.

Heston Aerodromes use was overshadowed by the larger, Great West Aerodrome, and RAF Northolt which had infrastructure in place to accommodate military aircraft during World War Two. Its importance was reduced further when in 1946, Great West Aerodrome was officially declared as London Airport.

The current site of Heston Aerodrome was occupied by the town of Heston, with industrial buildings, schools, the M4 Motorway, Heston Service Station and even a golf course occupying the site. The only remanent of an aerodrome is a concrete hangar constructed before World War Two, which is now Grade II listed.

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The Garde II listed hangar is used for commercial and industrial use. 

Bonus:

The driveway leading to the Heston Aerodrome still exists, and is called Aerodrome Way. But this is not the only indication that the land where Heston Aerodrome once lay hosted an airfield. These photographs also suggest the lands aviation connections. See the end of the article to see what these names all have in common.

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Great West Aerodrome:

Okay, so technically this aerodrome is still functional. It is of course Heathrow Airport. But compared to other aerodromes in the run-up to World War Two, Heathrow was a relatively new site.

Known as Great West Aerodrome (due to its proximity to the Great West Road), the site was surrounded by orchards and allotments, with much of the produce being sold at the Covent Garden Market.

The terminal buildings were very primitive, with examples such as the American Airlines terminal existing as merely a tent. 

Great West Aerodrome was commandeered to help with the war effort shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, and was an RAF base until 1946. Heathrow’s infrastructure was distinctive as it resembled a conceited of six runways in a Star of David formation. Two of these runways remain in operational use.

Heathrow Airport now has six terminals (the sixth terminal is solely for cargo operations), and ranks as one of the world’s largest airports.

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Hendon Aerodrome:

Hendon Aerodrome was one of the first airfields in the UK. Hendon Aerodrome hosted names such as French aviator Louis Bleriot and the Royal Flying Corps, which developed into the Royal Air Force.

Like Great West Aerodrome, it became an RAF base but during World War One instead, and oversaw the creation of the RAF, as we know if it, today. In the Edwardian era, when commercial aviation first arrived in the UK, learning to fly cost more than the average person’s annual salary.

But aerodromes would provide free flying lessons to those who already owned an aircraft.

Hendon Aerodrome has now become hemmed in by dozens of new-build apartment blocks to help alleviate the housing crisis which plagues Londoners today.

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Croydon Airport:

Croydon Airport was the regional airport of the south-east, and the UK’s very first airport to operate international flights from the British mainland to France and the Netherlands, as well as destinations in the British Empire.

The likes of Imperial Airways, KLM, and Air France all operated from the Art Deco terminal building from south London, which in the 1920s and 1930s, during its height of operation, was less surrounded buildings and residential neighbourhoods.

However, due to damage caused by the Blitz and the V-Bombers by the Luftwaffe during World War Two, London’s population was “rehoused” in locations less central to the The City, in an effort to alleviate the housing crisis which existed and improve the quality of housing.

Semi-detached and social housing came with the latest mod-cons at the time, including in-door bathrooms, central heating, as well as gardens and public playgrounds. As a result of post-war urbanisation, a vast majority of the land that comprised of Croydon Airport has been used for commercial buildings and housing. 

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Bonus Answers:

The road names of the nearby “Brabazon” Estate are all named after famous aircraft manufacturers and aviation pioneers. Louis Bleriot, the Wright Brothers, … Sopwith, … Cobham. Brabazon, and new addiction to the estate Avro Drive, commemorate the aircraft manufacturers which played a fundamental role during World War Two.

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