|BEA Viscount - photo credit Jerry Hughes|
|BOAC, Air Canada, Pan Am & Air India - Photo credit Wikipedia|
This all got me thinking about the chronology of the development of Heathrow generally, especially in the 1940s, 50s & 60s so here is what I have discovered with the aid of the excellent (and free) "Flight" magazine archive.
In the 1920s and 30s, London's principal airport was at Croydon but, during the War, those charged with planning life after the conflict realised that it was in too congested a location for future development and that a new site would be required. A private aerodrome called "Great West Aerodrome" established in 1929 by aircraft manufacturer Fairey Aviation near the hamlet of Heathrow was identified and the government rather cynically decided it would be a lot easier to take control of this under emergency wartime legislation as allegedly required for the war effort than have to endure the interminable planning delays associated with establishing an international airport on a new site in peacetime.
In the picture above from the Flight archive, Great West Aerodrome is partially obscured by the tail planes of the Fairey bomber the photo was taken from in 1934. However, the view is looking north west and I've outlined the NW boundaries of the aerodrome in red. The hangar circled in yellow is the building with the BOAC billboard on it in the photo above of the BEA Viscounts: it survived into the 1960s because it couldn't be demolished until a decades long dispute between the Ministry and Fairey's over compensation for the requisition of their site was finally settled.
Below is Fairey's Great West Aerodrome (red with the hangar circled yellow again) as seen on 1940s OS 1 inch mapping superimposed over current aerial imagery on the NLS website.
Construction began in 1944 of a greatly enlarged airfield with three runways in a triangular pattern as seen in the picture below which was taken from the west in August 1946.
|From Flight Archive|
The new airport - known in the 1940s and 50s as "London Airport" (or LAP) rather than Heathrow - opened in 1946. The original apron and terminal were off Bath Road to the north of the runways - you can see them off the taxiway to the left (north) of the runway at top left of the photo above. Due to post-war austerity, the first terminal facilities were just tents surrounding a brick, three storey RAF type control tower (pictures here and here) but the medium term plan was to build three more runways to create a "Star of David" layout with state of the art terminal buildings in the centre accessed by a tunnel under the north runway (27R/09L): this would necessitate shifting the west runway of the original triangle (the one running roughly left to right in the picture above) westwards a bit. Below is a film made in 1949 about the development of "London Airport":-
In the picture below - taken from the east in 1952 - the three new runways have been built (and one realigned) and you can see what appears to be the tunnel to the central area being built under 27R/09L. The original terminal is on the right and the BEA and BOAC maintenance and hangarage complex is taking shape at the bottom of the picture: the old Fairey hangar is circled:-
The new facilities in the central area opened in April 1955. These served domestic and European flights (which had hitherto operated from nearby Northolt Airport) and became known as "Central" in contrast to the original terminal which became known as "North" and continued for the time being to serve intercontinental flights.
"Central" comprised three main buildings - the control tower block, an administration building called the Queens Building and a terminal building (which became the nucleus of the old Terminal 2: it was subdivided as "No 1 Building: Europa" for European operations and "No 2 Building: Britannic" for domestic flights). There were two aprons, north east and south east, but no piers or contact gates and passengers walked or were bussed out to the aircraft:-
|London Airport Central in the mid 1950s - view from north east|
|Delightfully evocative cartoons from the Flight archive depict the joys of air travel from LAP Central|
|The conspicuous Southall gasometer in the background identifies this view as looking over the north east apron of LAP Central towards the holding point of runway 28R: Photo credit Ian MacFarlane at Airliners.net|
|The Hunting Clan Building in the background identifies this view as looking over the south east apron: Photo credit Martin Snelling|
|London Airport long haul terminal (later T3) in 1962 - Flight Archive|
|Aerial view looking north west over LAP North|
|Looking east at LAP North: photo credit Miocene|
|LAP North then and now via National Libraries of Scotland (move the transparency of overlay slider)|
|Heathrow 1967 - Flight archive|
|Terminal 3 from the north west in 1967: photo credit Steve Williams via Airliners.net|
|BOAC Britannia and Qantas and South African 707s; photo credit germany1985|
|The south east apron in transition to T2: photo credit David Russon|
The other thing to note from the 1967 diagram above is that the triangle of grass enclosed by the north east apron and runways 27R/09L and 23L/5R has been concreted over to provide additional stands. I think this happened quite early in the 60s and this is the area - the site of what was to become Terminal 1 - where you see photos of parked planes seemingly stretching into the distance: compare the picture below taken in 1966 with the one of the Aer Lingus Constellation above taken from roughly the same position on the spectators' gallery on the Queens Building:-
|Looking north east over the site of what was to become Terminal: photo credit Ken Fielding|
The last big change to the footprint of Heathrow in the 1960s was the addition of the T-shaped pier to the south west of T3 as seen at the bottom of the postcard view below: it was built to accommodate the Boeing 747 "jumbo jet" which entered service in January 1970 (and a factoid I never knew before I googled tonight for the date of the first scheduled 747 flight to LHR - the aircraft which performed that flight, on 22 January 1970 for Pan Am, was the plane written off in the Tenerife air disaster.)
Having reached the 1970s, that's where I'm going to stop this blog simply because it brings us to Heathrow as I recognise it when I became interested in my childhood. I realise I haven't covered development of the cargo facilities to the south in 1967/68 (see here), for example.
T4 was added to the south of runway 27L/09R in 1986 for British Airways long haul flights, thereafter becoming the Skyteam alliance terminal after BA vacated T1 and T4 upon the opening of T5 (to the west) in 2008. But apart from some relatively minor tweaks (a third, south east "Europier" added to T1 in the mid 1990s for e.g.) that's how the central area of LHR remained from the 1970s until redevelopment of T2 began in 2010. This involved demolition of the distinctive red brick Control Tower Block built in the 1950s in January 2013:-
|I passed through Heathrow three days before this picture appeared in the Daily Mail|
The south east pier at T1 in 1971: same view as the Air France 707 above - Wikipedia
|Photo credit R A Scholefield via Airliners.net|
I then discovered that there's another gasometer to the south west of Heathrow at Egham (I think it's been demolished recently). And the church tower visible to the left of the gasometer is the church of St Mary the Virgin at Stanwell. So in fact, it's looking south west along the south east face of T3 (or "Oceanic Building" as it was called when the photo was taken in September 1964) before its piers were added. It's also confusing that the layout of the parking stands appears to have varied during the period between opening T3(OB) and the piers being added: compare with the picture of the BOAC Britannia and QANTAS and SAA 707s six photos up.
Finally, a selected timeline to assist dating of photos:-
31 May 1946 - Heathrow officially opens
13 March 1952 - Entry into service (EIS) of Airspeed Ambassador ("Elizabethan") with BEA (here).
2 May 1952 - EIS De Havilland Comet 1 (BOAC)
April 1953 - EIS Vickers Viscount (BEA)
10 January 1954 - BOAC Comet 1 fleet grounded after loss of "Yoke Peter" at Elba
late 1954 - retiral of Vickers Viking by BEA
17 April 1955 - opening of Heathrow central area
1 February 1957 - EIS Bristol Britannia (BOAC)
30 July 1958 - retiral of Ambassador by BEA (here)
4 October 1958 - EIS Comet 4 (BOAC) (here)
26 October 1958 - EIS Boeing 707 (Pan Am - New York to Paris Le Bourget) (here)
27 July 1959 - EIS Caravelle (Air France) (here)
18 September 1959 - EIS Douglas DC8 (Delta - don't know date of first flight to LHR)
September 1959 - roll out of BEA "Red Square" livery (I assume first applied to Viscounts) (here)
1 April 1960 - EIS Comet 4 by BEA.
27 May 1960 - EIS 707 by BOAC (here)
1 March 1961 - EIS Vickers Vanguard (BEA) (here)
13 November 1961 - opening of Oceanic (longhaul) Building, later T3 (here)
Spring 1962 - LAP North closed (here)
19 May 1962 - retiral of DC3 by BEA
1 February 1964 - EIS Boeing 727 (Eastern Airlines) (here)
11 March 1964 - EIS Hawker Siddeley Trident 1 (BEA) (here)
29 April 1964 - EIS Vickers VC10 (BOAC) (here)
26 April 1965 - retiral of Britannia by BOAC (here)
November 1965 - retiral of Comet 4 by BOAC (here)
10 February 1968 - EIS Boeing 737 (Lufthansa) (here)
Mid 1968 - roll out of BEA "Speedjack" livery (earliest picture I've seen here)
6 November 1968 - Terminal 1 opened (here)
1969 - addition of "T Pier" to T3 in anticipation of Boeing 747
22 January 1970 - EIS Boeing 747 (Pan Am)
14 April 1971 - EIS 747 (BOAC) (here)
1 April 1974 - Formation of British Airways by merger of BEA and BOAC
Taken in August 1960, the final picture below sums up the transitions at Heathrow in the late 1950s and early 60s - from piston engine (the DC3 on the right) to jetliner and the mix of old and new BEA liveries:-
|Photo credit R A Scholefield at airliners.net|