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* IATA : none
* ICAO : EGCR
51°21′23″N 000°07′02″W / 51.35639°N 0.11722°W
/ 51.35639; -0.11722 Coordinates : 51°21′23″N 000°07′02″W
/ 51.35639°N 0.11722°W / 51.35639; -0.11722
EGCR Location in Greater London
CROYDON AIRPORT (ICAO : EGCR ) was an airport in
South London ,
England. It was the main airport for
London before it was replaced by
Northolt Aerodrome ,
Heathrow Airport and
Gatwick Airport . The
terminal building and entrance lodge are Grade II listed buildings .
* 1 History
* 1.1 Origin
* 1.2 Expansion
* 1.3 Events and Celebrities
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
* 1.5 Post-war developments and final closure
* 2 The area today
* 3 The buildings
* 4 Aviators, pioneers and aircraft
* 5 Accidents and incidents
* 6 Immigration and Customs
* 7 Medical provision
* 8 Literary references
* 9 Notes
* 10 References
* 10.1 Bibliography
* 11 External links
Croydon Airport as it was in the 1920s or 1930s
Beddington Aerodrome was established – one of a number of
small airfields around
London that were created for protection against
Zeppelin raids during the
First World War
First World War . In 1916 a wooden air
traffic control and Customs building was built on one of these two
Waddon Aerodrome opened in 1918, 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 , in the accompanying old map).
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. The new aerodrome opened on 29 March 1920.
Plough Lane remained a public road crossing the site, and road
traffic was halted when necessary, first by a man with a red flag and
later by a gate. The aerodrome stimulated a growth in regular
scheduled flights carrying passengers, mail and freight, the first
destinations being Paris ,
Rotterdam . Two flights
daily from Paris were scheduled for ease of communication with London
during the Paris Peace Conference .
Penshurst Airfield was an alternative destination for airliners when
Croydon was closed due to fog. One such diversion was on 24 September
1921, when a de Havilland DH.18 aircraft was diverted to Penshurst.
This situation lasted until Penshurst closed on 28 July 1936.
Croydon was the first airport in the world to introduce air traffic
In 1923, flights to
Berlin Tempelhof Airport
Berlin Tempelhof Airport began, and the airport
became the operating base for
Imperial Airways , remembered in the
road name Imperial Way on the site today.
Imperial Airways de Havilland DH.34 crash of December
1924, conditions at
Croydon were criticised by the subsequent public
Aerial view of
Croydon Airport in 1925
The airport expanded during the 1920s, with a new complex of
buildings built adjoining
Purley Way , including the first
purpose-designed air terminal in the UK, the Aerodrome Hotel, and
extensive hangars. The development cost £267,000 (£14.5 million in
today's prices) . Plough Lane was closed permanently to let heavier
airliners land and depart safely. The airport's terminal building and
control tower were completed in 1928; the old wooden air traffic
control and Customs building was demolished. The new buildings and
layout began operations on 20 January 1928, and were officially opened
on 2 May.
Croydon was where regular international passenger services began,
initially using converted wartime bombers, and the Croydon-Le Bourget
route soon became the busiest in the world. Air Traffic Control was
first developed here, as was the distress call ‘Mayday Mayday
Amy Johnson took off from
Croydon for her record-breaking
flight to Australia.
Charles Lindbergh arrived in Spirit of St. Louis,
to be greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
Winston Churchill also took
On the morning of 11 July 1936, Major Hugh Pollard , and Cecil Bebb
Croydon Airport for the
Canary Islands in a de Havilland Dragon
Rapide aircraft, where they picked up
General Francisco Franco ,
taking him to Spanish Morocco and thereby helping to trigger the
outbreak of the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War .
Imperial Airways used the
Handley Page HP42/HP45 four-engined
biplanes from Croydon, and the
Armstrong Whitworth Atalanta , which
was the first monoplane airliner used by the airline, intended for use
on the African routes. In March 1937
British Airways Ltd operated from
Croydon, moving to
Heston Aerodrome in May 1938. Imperial Airways,
serving routes in the British Empire, and British Airways Ltd, serving
European routes, were merged by the Chamberlain government in November
1938 to become
British Overseas Airways Corporation
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Larger
Armstrong Whitworth Ensign series (G-ADSR)
came into service that year.
The airport also hosted a much-publicised visit by Gertrud
Scholtz-Klink , leader of the National Socialist Women’s League
(NS-Frauenschaft) and rumoured to be a spy; historians have speculated
that she landed in Britain to cultivate Germans spies living here, in
the run-up to WWII.
Second World War
Second World War started in September 1939,
was closed to civil aviation but played a vital role as a fighter
station during the
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain . No. 92 Squadron flew
Supermarine Spitfires from RAF
Croydon during the early part of the
Second World War
Second World War and the Battle of Britain.
EVENTS AND CELEBRITIES
1929 - Preparing to fly in an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, from
Croydon to Paris,
Douglas Fairbanks and
Mary Pickford met Edwina
Mountbatten, Countess Mountbatten of Burma in 1929 .
Amy Johnson leaves
Croydon 5th May 1930 with a few people to
see her off. She returns from
Australia to be greeted by crowds of
BATTLE OF BRITAIN
On 15 August 1940,
Croydon Airport was attacked in the first major
air raid on the
London area. At around 6.20 pm 22
Bf 110 and Bf 109
fighter-bombers of Erpr.Gr.210 mounted a final raid of the day,
RAF Kenley nearby, but attacked
Croydon (four miles
further north) in error. The armoury was destroyed, the civilian
airport terminal building was badly damaged, and a hangar was damaged
by cannon fire and blast. Another hangar and about forty training
aircraft in it went up in flames. Six airfield personnel died (four
airmen from No. 111 Squadron, an Officer of 1 (RCAF), and a female
telephonist from Station HQ). Factories next to
Croydon Airport took
the worst of the bombing. The British NSF factory (making electrical
components) was almost entirely destroyed, and the Bourjois perfume
factory gutted. The Rollason
Aircraft factory also received bomb hits
and accounted for many of the 62 civilians (including five women)
killed and 192 injured. Of the raiders, eight aircraft were downed by
the Hurricanes of 32 and 111 Squadrons.
Croydon became the base of
RAF Transport Command in 1944.
POST-WAR DEVELOPMENTS AND FINAL CLOSURE
Aerial photograph of
Croydon Airport in 1945
Following the end of the war it was realised that post-war airliners
and cargo aircraft would be larger and air traffic would intensify.
Urban spread of south London, and surrounding villages growing into
towns, had enclosed
Croydon Airport and left it no room for expansion.
Heathrow was therefore designated as London's airport.
Croydon returned to civil control in February 1946; a diagram in the
issue of Flight dated 11 April shows 1,250 yards (1,140 m) ground run
in the 170–350 direction, 1,150 yards (1,050 m) 060-240 and 1,100
yards (1,000 m) 120–300 (the numbers are degrees clockwise from
north). Northolt opened to the airlines soon after that, cutting
Croydon's traffic, but the September 1946 ABC Guide shows 218
departures a week to Belfast, Dublin, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow
(Renfrew), Jersey, Guernsey, and several continental airports. A year
later there were 56 departures a week, mostly BEA de Havilland Dragon
Rapides that weeks later left
Croydon for good.
It was decided in 1952 that the airport would eventually be closed,
Blackbushe Airport in
Hampshire and Northolt Aerodrome in Middlesex
could accommodate European flights during the 1950s. The last
scheduled flight from
Croydon departed at 6:15pm on 30 September 1959,
followed by the last aircraft (a private flight), at 7:45pm; the
airfield officially closed at 10:20pm.
On 27 September 2009, to mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of
the airport, eleven light aircraft , including eight biplanes, staged
a flypast. A gold laurel leaf tribute was laid in the control tower
to mark the anniversary.
THE AREA TODAY
Much of the site has been built over, but some of the terminal
Purley Way (the
A23 road ) are still visible, clearly
identifiable as to their former purpose. The former terminal building
is called Airport House, and the former control tower houses a
visitors' centre. The de Havilland Heron outside Airport House
A de Havilland Heron (a small propeller-driven British airliner of
the 1950s), is displayed outside Airport House on struts flanking the
entry path (as of November 2009). The Heron is painted to represent an
example registered G-AOXL of
Morton Air Services , which was the
aircraft that flew the last passenger flight from
Croydon on 30
September 1959. A memorial to those lost in the Battle of Britain
stands slightly to the south. RAF
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain memorial
Croydon has long ceased operation, the two cut ends of
Plough Lane have never been reunited, but the area between has been
developed instead into parkland, playing fields, and the Roundshaw
residential estate with its roads aptly named after aviators and
aircraft . All that remains of the runways is a small area of tarmac
about 400 feet (120 m) long each way in
Roundshaw Park just west of
Purley Way, which is a remnant of the WNW-ESE runway due south of the
control buildings; it can be seen at 51°21′04″N 0°07′03″W
/ 51.351067°N 0.117449°W / 51.351067; -0.117449 ; the "arm"
may be a remnant of a taxiway to Hangar B. The area is used primarily
by walkers, model aircraft enthusiasts, and locals playing football
and baseball .
The church on the
Roundshaw estate has a cross on its outside wall
that was made from the cut down propeller of a Spitfire based at
Croydon during the Second World War.
The area is still known as
Croydon Airport for transport purposes and
was the location for
Croydon Water Palace .
In recognition of the historical significance of the aerodrome, two
local schools (
Waddon Infants School and Duppas Junior School) have
merged and became The Aerodrome School from September 2010.
In films and TV programmes (e.g. Brass )
Croydon Airport has
occasionally been represented by
Barton Airport , near Manchester, as
is evident from its distinctive control tower .
The Aerodrome Hotel and the terminal building including its grand
booking hall were built in the neo-classical geometrical design
typical of the early 20th Century. A further item that would have
caught the eye of visitor and traveller alike was the time zone tower
(now lost) in the booking hall with its dials depicting the times in
different parts of the world.
Croydon Airport's Aerodrome Hotel is
Croydon Vision 2020 regeneration plan. World with Wings
Symbol, still on wall in Booking Hall
The Airport Hotel survives as the independent Hallmark Hotel.
AVIATORS, PIONEERS AND AIRCRAFT
The aerodrome was known the world over, its fame being spread by the
many aviators and pioneers who touched down at Croydon, such as:
Alan Cobham , who flew from
Cape Town and back in
Charles Lindbergh , who flew into
Croydon in 1927 shortly after
completing the first solo trans-Atlantic flight;
Bert Hinkler , who made the first flight from
Croydon to Darwin ,
Australia in 1928;
Mary, Lady Heath , the first pilot, male or female, to fly a small
open-cockpit aircraft from
Cape Town to London,
Charles Kingsford Smith , who beat Hinkler's record;
Amy Johnson , the first woman to fly from
later to return to
Croydon to a jubilant welcome.
Winston Churchill , who took extensive flying lessons at Croydon
and was nearly killed during a crash at take-off in 1919.
Tom Campbell Black , who with
C. W. A. Scott won the MacRobertson
London to Melbourne Air Race in 1934;
Juan de la Cierva , the Spanish inventor of the autogyro , who
died in an aviation accident on 9 December 1936.
ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
* On 15 March 1923,
Farman F.60 Goliath F-AEIE of Compagnie des
Messageries Aériennes overran the runway on landing and collided with
a building. The aircraft was later repaired and returned to service.
* On 22 January 1924, Goliath F-GEAO of
Air Union was destroyed by
fire following an accident when landing.
* On 24 December 1924 (1924
Imperial Airways de Havilland DH.34
Imperial Airways de Havilland DH.34 G-EBBX crashed and caught
fire shortly after takeoff from Croydon, killing the pilot and all
* On 6 November 1929, the
Deutsche Lufthansa Junkers G 24bi
Oberschlesien (registration D-903) crashed after striking trees on a
Marden Park ,
Surrey , while attempting to return to Croydon
in thick fog after taking off for a flight to
Amsterdam in the
Netherlands . Three of the four crew members and four of the five
* On 19 May 1934, a
Wibault 280 of
Air France crash-landed on a
cricket pitch adjacent to
Croydon Airport due to running out of fuel.
Only one of the ten people on board was injured.
* On 31 May 1934 an
Air France aircraft carrying newspapers to Paris
crashed after hitting the mast of an aircraft radio navigation beacon
that had been erected off the end of the white-line takeoff path,
killing the two crew.
* On 9 December 1936 (1936
Croydon accident ), a
DC-2 crashed on take off at
Croydon Airport on a flight to
The accident killed 15 out of 17 on the DC-2, including Juan de la
* On 25 January 1947 (1947
Croydon Dakota accident ), a Spencer
Airways Douglas Dakota failed to get airborne on a flight to Rhodesia
. The aircraft struck another parked and empty aircraft, killing 11
passengers and the pilot.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS
The Chief Immigration Officer of the shipping port of
Port of Dover ,
Mr P.L.Hartley, took over in 1936
A medical officer, Dr John Robert Draper, M.B., B.Ch., was employed
Croydon Council to take over medical duties at the airport from 1st
January 1931. He was answerable to Croydon's Medical Officer of
Croydon Airport featured in the detective novels, Freeman Wills
Crofts ' The 12.30 from
Croydon (1934); and
Agatha Christie 's Death
in the Clouds (1935).
* ^ A B ICAO code has been reassigned
* ^ Airfields & Aviation Memorials by Richard Flagg
* ^ "
Croydon Airport The cradle of British civil aviation".
* ^ "Listed Buildings Online: Airport House".
English Heritage .
Retrieved 30 May 2010.
* ^ "Listed Buildings Online: Former Lodge To
English Heritage . Retrieved 30 May 2010.
* ^ A B "
Croydon Airport & RAF
* ^ A B C D E Millard, Neil (3 September 2009). "Fly past to mark
50th anniversary of
Croydon Airport". The
Croydon Post (online and in
Northcliffe Media . Retrieved 14 September 2009.
* ^ http://www.croydononline.org/history/places/airports.asp
* ^ "
London Terminal Aerodrome". Flight. No. 29 September 1921. p.
* ^ "Penshurst Closed". Flight. No. 30 July 1936. p. 141.
* ^ A B "
Croydon Air Accident. Court of Enquiry's Report". The
Times (43883). London. 11 February 1925. col A, B, C, D, p. 17.
* ^ UK Consumer Price Index inflation figures are based on data
from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for
Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)", MeasuringWorth.com.
* ^ "RandomPottins". randompottins.blogspot.com.
* ^ "When Hitler’s perfect woman came to call". History Extra.
* ^ "MK1 Supermarine Spitfire to be sold to benefit RAF Veterans
and Wildlife Charity". Cambridge Military History.
* ^ Cluett, Douglas. The First the Fastest and the Famous. London
Borough of Sutton Libraries and Arts Services. p. 223. ISBN 0907335144
* ^ Cluett, Douglas (1985). The First the Fastest and the Famous.
London Borough of Sutton Libraries and Arts Services. p. 36. ISBN
* ^ Ramsay, "After the Battle"
* ^ A B C D E Austen, Ian (7 October 2009). "Airport milestone
marked by flypast". The
Croydon Post. Croydon, UK:
Northcliffe Media .
access-date= requires url= (help )
* ^ "Thursday 15th August 1940 – Battle of Britain". War and
peace and the price of cat-fish.
* ^ Charlton, Jo (7 August 2009). "Work begins on new primary
school in Waddon". The
Croydon Advertiser . Croydon, UK: Northcliffe
Media . Retrieved 8 October 2009.
* ^ "Schools amalgamation means lift off for Aerodrome School".
London Borough of
Croydon . 6 August 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
* ^ "Hallmark Hotel Croydon, Croydon, Near Gatwick".
* ^ Gilbert, Martin; Churchill, Randolph (1975). Winston S.
Churchill – Volume IV 1917–1922. London: Heinemann. p. 208.
* ^ A B "FRENCH PRE-WAR REGISTER Version 120211" (PDF). Air
Britain. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
* ^ "Air Disaster at Croydon". Flight. No. 1 January 1925. p. 4.
* ^ Harro Ranter (6 November 1929). "ASN
Aircraft accident Junkers
G.24bi D-903 Godstone, Surrey". aviation-safety.net.
* ^ "Mishap to French Air Liner". The Times (46759). London. 21 May
1934. col F, p. 7.
* ^ "reachinformation.com". reachinformation.com.
* ^ Accident description at the
Aviation Safety Network
* ^ "Dover Express". 25 December 1936.
* ^ Draper, John Robert (7 January 1939). "Medical Supervision at
Croydon Aerodrome". British Medical Journal (supplement). 1 (4070):
* ^ Wagstaff, Vanessa; Poole, Stephen (2004). Agatha Christie: a
reader's companion (2nd ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1845130154 .
* Learmonth, Bob; Nash, Joanna; Cluett, Douglas (1977). The First
Croydon Airport 1915–1928. Sutton:
London Borough of Sutton
Libraries and Arts Services. ISBN 0-9503224-3-1 .
* Cluett, Douglas; Nash, Joanna; Learmonth, Bob (1980). Croydon
Airport: The Great Days 1928–1939. Sutton:
London Borough of Sutton
Libraries and Arts Services. ISBN 0-9503224-8-2 .
* Dickson, Charles C. (1983).
Croydon Airport Remembered. Sutton:
London Borough of Sutton Libraries and Arts Services. ISBN
* Cluett, Douglas; Bogle (Nash), Joanna; Learmonth, Bob (1984).
Croydon Airport and The Battle for Britain 1939–1940. Sutton: London
Borough of Sutton Libraries and Arts Services. ISBN 0-907335-11-X .
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