Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,372 pages of information and 233,518 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Croydon Aerodrome

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1915 December. Beddington Aerodrome was established – one of a number of small airfields around London that were created for protection against Zeppelin airship raids during the First World War. In January 1916, the first two aircraft, B.E 2C's, arrived at the aerodrome as part of Home Defence. It became a large Reserve Aircraft and Training aerodrome for the Royal Flying Corps. At the end of the First World War the aerodrome was retained, becoming an important training airfield for the newly formed Royal Air Force.

1918 Waddon Aerodrome opened as part of the adjoining National Aircraft Factory No 1, to serve aircraft test flights.

The two airfields were on each side of Plough Lane (the lane running north from Russell Hill near Purley).

The two aerodromes were combined following the end of the First World War to become Croydon Aerodrome, the gateway for all international flights to and from London.

1920 March 28th. Croydon Aerodrome became the approved airport serving London.

1924 March 31st. On the formation of Britain's first national airline, Imperial Airways, Croydon became the new airline's operating base. Imperial Airways was the British Government's chosen instrument to develop connections with the U.K.'s extensive overseas interests. It was therefore from Croydon that Britain first developed its European and long haul routes to India, Africa, the Middle and Far East, Asia, Africa and Australia (in conjunction with Qantas).

1924 December 24th. A de Havilland DH.34 G-EBBX of Imperial Airways crashed at Purley, Surrey, killing all eight people on board. The aircraft was operating a scheduled international flight from Croydon, Surrey, to Paris, France.

1926-28 The airport was enlarged with a new complex of buildings being constructed alongside Purley Way, including the first purpose-designed airport terminal and air traffic control tower, the world's first airport hotel, and extensive hangars.

1927 Charles Lindbergh arrived in the 'Spirit of St. Louis',

1930 May 05th. Amy Johnson took off from Croydon for her record-breaking flight to Australia.

1936 December 09th. Juan de la Cierva, the inventor of the Autogiro died during when a passenger of a DC-2 which crashed in take-off.

WWII. The airport was closed to civil aviation but played a vital role as a fighter station during the Battle of Britain. No. 92 Squadron flew Supermarine Spitfires from RAF Croydon during the early part of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.

1946 May 31st: Heathrow Airport officially opened as the new London Airport to replace the old Croydon grass airfield.

1952 It was decided that the airport would eventually be closed, as Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire and Northolt Aerodrome in Middlesex could accommodate European flights during the 1950s.

1959 September 30th. The last scheduled flight from Croydon departed at 6:15pm.

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