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London Airport in the 1950s

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    London Airport in the 1950s

    There has just been an interesting thread on the Dragon Rapides used for sightseeing from London Airport in the 1950s. The thread began to drift (as is quite natural) and it was suggested that we start a new thread on memories (photographic or otherwise) from that period of what is now LHR. Maybe it has already been done, but I cannot find it in the Search. There are snippets, but nothing extensive.
    I think we could extend the dateline for a year or two before or after the 50s, but what we are looking for are the piston-powered days.
    While I sort out some pictures, maybe someone would like to kick off with pictures, sightings or memories.

    Laurence
    Laurence

    #2
    Here are a couple to start with while I scan some more.

    Argonauts awaiting disposal Northside, July 1959


    Pakistani Super Constellation AP-AFQ leaving for (? coming from) Karachi, July 1959


    Laurence
    Laurence

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      #3
      I would love to see pics of the older buildings, especially the original VHT control tower which was northside along the Bath Rd, and the original Fairey Great West hangars.
      http://www.abpic.co.uk/search.php?q=...t=most_popular

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        #4
        I remember a spotting visit to Heathrow ("LAP") in April 56(Royal Blue coach from Southampton) and finding the 3 Tu-104s and 2 Il-14s there - the occasion being the visit to the UK of Bulganin and Kruschev.Sadly I have no pictures.
        http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/

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          #5
          As a met assisstant I worked at LAP Heathrow from Dec 49 to Jul 50. The office was close to the old control tower off the Bath Road. I did observations which included being sent out to the runway controllers caravan in times of poor visibility, to give visibility ranges from there.
          I also remember an Air France pilot coming into the office wanting the person responsible for reporting the cloud base. That was 17 year old yours truly, part of whose observation job was to go outside, look up at the clouds, and report on their type and cloud base. Mr Air France was really, really mad at me as he had landed at below his minima, based upon my guesswork. I gave, I guess, a good Gallic shrug, and told him I had done the best I could. The rest of the office was trying hard not to laugh.
          Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.

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            #6
            Hi Peter, very interesting, do you have any more stories or even pictures?
            I assume you worked in one of the 'SECO' huts near the base of the tower, and wasn't the met. square just to the front and right of the tower if looking out of the front?
            http://www.abpic.co.uk/search.php?q=...t=most_popular

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              #7
              Yes, you have reminded me that the met square with its Stevenson screened box for the thermometers etc was just as you say. Somewhere I have a couple of scruffy pics of me working? in said square and office. Cannot lay my hands on them now but will have a dig round later.
              One of my other duties was to plot observations on the "Atlantic" chart. Weather reports came from all round the world via teleprinter into the printer room where there were some 12 teleprinters chattering away. When doing these charts one had to go and tear off whatever strips of obs one needed and painstakingly plot them out, using two pens strapped together, one red, one black. It was necessary to plot very quickly as the duty forecaster would be hassling for it. One was produced every six hours and he had to plot the isobars and fronts using the information gleaned from the obs, so one had to be neat and precise plotting them. The East seaboard of America, Greenland, Iceland, Weather ships, the Azores and N Europe all had to go on the chart. Dozens of reporting stations had to have wet and dry bulb temps, pressure, and a symbol for how the barometer moved, cloud types and cloudbase hts and one or two other figures or symbols had to go on at the rate of about two stations a minute.
              Then every six hours there would be a telephone conference between the chief forecasters at Heathrow, Prestwick and head office, who between them would thrash out the forecasts to be passed to the BBC etc. The arguments could become quite heated until a consensus was arrived at.
              I had had a six? week training course at the Met Office in Kingsway, where we learned how to do obs on the famous Air Ministry roof, before doing about 4 months at Lympne in Kent and then being posted to Heathrow. So my experience when confronting the Air France man was pretty minimal, but of course being a stroppy teenager, I was quite right. LOL
              Incidentally at Lympne the met assisstant was on duty on the airfield alone at night. One of his duties was to fill a balloon with hydrogen in a little wooden shed, hang a chinese lantern with a birthday cake candle in it. This contraption was then released into the sky to be tracked with a fancy theodolite to obtain winds at height. This was done at 1400 hours AND AT 0200 hours, Elfin Safety anyone.
              A little off historic aircraft perhaps so bear with me.
              Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.

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                #8
                Originally posted by PeterVerney View Post
                A little off historic aircraft perhaps so bear with me.
                It is historic aviation, so we should be ok this time!
                Fascinating stuff, I'm so interested mainly because St Mawgan was the only other place that had the same tower as Heathrow, complete with the SECO huts and met. square all laid out the same, it's all still there - even down to the met. balloon filling shed!
                http://www.abpic.co.uk/search.php?q=...t=most_popular

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                  #9
                  Those Argonauts bring back the memories! Attached is my log for 29 November 1958. As you will see there were quite a few Connies and Strats in outdoor storage as well as the Argonauts.Pity I couldn't afford a film for the camera at the time!!! Oh, for a time machine!
                  Jim
                  PS: I've just noticed that the file is labelled 1959 but 1958 is the correct year!
                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by jim_jobe; 6th October 2009, 23:03.

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                    #10
                    Thanks for the log Jim. In July 1959 some of the ones you mention were still present. Some were cocooned, such as Constellations G-ALAK, LAL, NUP and Super Cons VH-EAN and EAO. Some of these were Skyways, as were the Yorks GNV, GOB and HFE. A surprising cocoon was Heron G-AOTI.

                    A few more old photos below. Sorry about the quality. Brownie level, as I was a poor teenager!

                    DC4 (C54A) F-BELS June 1952


                    Britannia G-AOVL Northside July 1959


                    Illfated G-ALYP in April 1953, a few months before it went down off Elba in January 1954


                    A later Comet 4, in July 1959


                    Laurence
                    Last edited by l.garey; 8th October 2009, 13:01. Reason: Correction of G-ANUD to NUP!
                    Laurence

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                      #11
                      Heathrow C1956

                      I have more somewhere!
                      Last edited by wl745; 27th March 2012, 09:01.

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                        #12
                        Here are a few taken sometime in the mid-50s.









                        Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.

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                          #13
                          Lovely pictures Jetflap. Better than mine!

                          Laurence
                          Last edited by l.garey; 7th October 2009, 08:56.
                          Laurence

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Excellent pics, brings back the good old days.
                            What beautiful aeroplanes we made then, the Ambassador and the first Comet were really works of art.
                            Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by pagen01 View Post
                              It is historic aviation, so we should be ok this time!
                              Fascinating stuff, .......
                              I agree. (not a mention of a Spitfire anywhere :diablo: )

                              Roger Smith
                              A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

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                                #16
                                As threatened I found my old album. These snaps were taken of me doing an observation sometime in the first half of 1950. Note even 17 year old Met Office employees wore a tie at all times LOL
                                Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.

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                                  #17
                                  Yes some lovely pics guys, especially the two Viscounts.. you can almost hear them whistleing along the peri-track.

                                  Incidentally, the brown marking on the fins of the Ambassador.. is that muck from the Centaurus engines?
                                  Facebook page
                                  https://www.facebook.com/Westland.Wy...tif_t=page_fan

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                                    #18
                                    London Airport in the 1950s

                                    What a marvellous collection of pictures - hard to believe the coloured ones were taken that long ago, they are so sharp. And they evoke long forgotten memories of Viscount and Ambassador(Elisabethan) trips.

                                    And at the old North Terminal you felt so close to the planes and the crews. Anyone got any pictures of Vikings in BEA livery and Dakotas in BEA or Air France livery?
                                    What really matters is what you do with what you have.

                                    SKY HIGH

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                                      #19
                                      A few more. The Convair 340 (?) was taken in 1956 and the others in 1958.







                                      Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.

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                                        #20
                                        London Airport in the 1950s

                                        Terrific pictures, Jetflap - thanks. I am back as a teenage plane spotter. You wrote 340? - I think it is a 340.
                                        What really matters is what you do with what you have.

                                        SKY HIGH

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