A mile­stone year for Heathrow

Cel­e­bra­tions planned to mark 70 years since start of com­mer­cial flights

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Salina Pa­tel salina.pa­tel@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

LAST Fri­day marked 70 years since Heathrow be­came a com­mer­cial air­port.

Orig­i­nally built for mil­i­tary pur­poses dur­ing the Sec­ond World War the then newly named Lon­don Air­port was handed over to the Min­is­ter of Civil Avi­a­tion on Jan­uary 1 1946.

The first com­mer­cial flight to depart on the day was a Bri­tish South Amer­i­can Air­lines Lan­cas­trian ‘Star Light’ which flew to Buenos Aires. The air­port was then of­fi­cially opened to its first wave of pas­sen­gers on May 31 that year.

Long stand­ing em­ployee Keith Hay­wood of Ruislip, nearly 87, has worked at the air­port for over 70 years.

He said: “I feel very priv­i­leged to have seen Heathrow de­velop and grow from its first day in 1946.”

Keith was among a group of young traf­fic trainees who watched the first flight depart and cur­rently works two days a week at Bri­tish Air­ways Her­itage cen­tre at the air­line’s head­quar­ters at Wa­ter­side.

The air­port will of­fi­cially cel­e­brate its an­niver­sary on May 31.

Heathrow CEO John Hol­land Kaye said: “This is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone which marks the in­cred­i­ble trans­for­ma­tion of Heathrow.

“Heathrow has come a long way from be­ing a mil­i­tary air­field to a na­tional as­set which is now a glob­ally recog­nised brand.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing the history of this amaz­ing air­port this year but I’m also look­ing for­ward to the next 70 years as Heathrow aims to be the best con­nected and most en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble air­port in the world.”

In 1946 pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nals were made from ex-mil­i­tary mar­quees which formed a tented vil­lage along the Bath Road where pas­sen­gers walked over wooden duck­boards to reach the air­craft parked on the muddy air­field.

By the end of Heathrow’s first year in op­er­a­tion, 63,000 pas­sen­gers had trav­elled through Lon­don’s new air­port, grow­ing to 796,000 by 1951, and to date has rock­eted to 73 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally.

Since 2003, Heathrow has spent £12bn on ex­pan­sion and re­de­vel­op­ment projects in­clud­ing the open­ing of Ter­mi­nal 5 in 2008 fol­lowed the year af­ter by a ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment of Ter­mi­nal 4. The de­mo­li­tion of Ter­mi­nal 2 in 2010 paved the way for The Queen’s Ter­mi­nal to open in 2014 and the clo­sure of Ter­mi­nal 1 in June 2015 will make way for the ex­ten­sion of Ter­mi­nal 2. If the third runway goes ahead it is ex­pected a new ter­mi­nal will be built adjacent to Ter­mi­nal 5.

n BACK THEN: Above, Heathrow's Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal in 1961, and right, a photo taken in 1937 show­ing the an­nual plough­ing match un­der way on what is now the north­ern runway at Heathrow Air­port

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