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 148,413 pages of information and 233,867 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Heathrow Airport

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1953. Proposed Central Terminal Buildings.

1930 Charles Richard Fairey paid the Vicar of Harmondsworth £15,000 for a 150-acre plot to build a private airport to assemble and test aircraft. Fairey's Great West Aerodrome had a single grass runway.

WWII the government requisitioned land in and around the ancient agricultural village of Heath Row, including the Great West Aerodrome, to build RAF Heston, a base for long-range troop-carrying aircraft. An RAF-type control tower was constructed and a "Star of David" pattern of runways laid out, the longest of which was 3,000 yards.

1944 Work started

1945 By the time the war ended the RAF no longer needed another aerodrome

1946 Heathrow was officially handed over to the Air Ministry as London's new civil airport on 1 January 1946. The first aircraft to take off from Heathrow was a converted Lancaster bomber that flew to Buenos Aires.

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

The early passenger terminals were ex‑military marquees which formed a tented village along the Bath Road.

1951 796,000 passengers used the airport in that year

1951 The architect Frederick Gibberd was appointed to design permanent buildings for the airport. The plan was for a central area with a 122ft-high control tower, a passenger terminal called the Europa Building and an office block called the Queens Building.

1969 Terminal 1 opened; five million passengers a year were passing through the airport

1974 Installed a Hewlett-Packard computerised monitoring systems to analyse and record aircraft noise.[1]

1979 27 million passengers were using Heathrow annually.

1986 Terminal 4 opened.

2008 Start of operations at Terminal 5 in March

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1974/04/11
  • Heathrow Airport [1]