Key.Aero Network
Register Free

Page 1 of 14 1234511 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 404

Thread: London Airport in the 1950s

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    1,878

    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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    1,878
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    At St Athan but from St Mawgan
    Posts
    10,711
    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.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Torquay - previously Hampshire
    Posts
    644
    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ipswich
    Posts
    1,001
    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.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    At St Athan but from St Mawgan
    Posts
    10,711
    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?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ipswich
    Posts
    1,001
    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.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    At St Athan but from St Mawgan
    Posts
    10,711
    Quote 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!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    707
    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 Images Attached Images
    Last edited by jim_jobe; 6th October 2009 at 23:03.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    1,878
    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 at 13:01. Reason: Correction of G-ANUD to NUP!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Thailand
    Posts
    550

    Heathrow C1956

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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Dunstable, UK
    Posts
    364
    Here are a few taken sometime in the mid-50s.









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

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    1,878
    Lovely pictures Jetflap. Better than mine!

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

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ipswich
    Posts
    1,001
    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.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Coventry
    Posts
    2,894
    Quote 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?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ipswich
    Posts
    1,001
    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

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    England
    Posts
    5,673
    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?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    5,003

    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?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Dunstable, UK
    Posts
    364
    A few more. The Convair 340 (?) was taken in 1956 and the others in 1958.







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

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    5,003

    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.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    345
    Quote Originally Posted by Sky High View Post
    Terrific pictures, Jetflap - thanks. I am back as a teenage plane spotter. You wrote 340? - I think it is a 340.
    I thought all the Lufthansa Convairs were 440s and called metropolitans

    I loved the 50s at LAP, used to lurk down the A30 by the Pan Am Hangar

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Gainsborough
    Posts
    589
    Thanks Jet flap et al, real memories. Regret I did not have a camera, and spotting logs have long since disappeared. I do recall an Air France Dak landing on a taxiway in thick fog, I think we've had this mentioned before in an earlier thread

    Ref post 12 :
    Look at the Ambassador is that an Ensign being flown whilst taxying ???
    Look behind the Air France Viscount, isn't that the Rapide (that caused this Thread) ???

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Gainsborough
    Posts
    589
    Found this on Airliners, hope the copyright owner does not mind me putting it up on here :
    Last edited by old eagle; 23rd March 2011 at 11:44.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    At St Athan but from St Mawgan
    Posts
    10,711
    Quote Originally Posted by Jetflap View Post
    Here are a few taken sometime in the mid-50s.
    Excellent colour shots, you can just see the original tower in the right hand side of the two middle pics.

    the long span BEA maintainance buildings in the background of your next shots where a revolutionary design at the time, being amongst the largest clear span concrete buildings of the era.

    Nice personal pics there Peter, hard to believe that local met, is still done like that.

    I take it that the road and tunnel in the last shot is taken from the 'Queens' terminal end looking north?

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    707
    Beautiful pictures!
    Jim

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    UK and
    Posts
    2,150
    Quote Originally Posted by Wyvernfan View Post
    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?
    It certainly is! At start up, a flicker of flame would often leap back 30 feet. I remember the Dan Air ones doing so at Ringway.

    Incidentally, when did Croydon close as London Airport? I remember there was some of the Tower left at Croydon in the eary 70's. Or was I seeing things?

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    At St Athan but from St Mawgan
    Posts
    10,711
    Quote Originally Posted by old shape View Post
    Incidentally, when did Croydon close as London Airport? I remember there was some of the Tower left at Croydon in the eary 70's. Or was I seeing things?
    Almost exactly 50 years ago, September 1959. The combined tower, terminal and hotel survives and is kept in very good order.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    5,003

    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by old eagle View Post
    Thanks Jet flap et al, real memories. Regret I did not have a camera, and spotting logs have long since disappeared. I do recall an Air France Dak landing on a taxiway in thick fog, I think we've had this mentioned before in an earlier thread

    Ref post 12 :
    Look at the Ambassador is that an Ensign being flown whilst taxying ???
    Look behind the Air France Viscount, isn't that the Rapide (that caused this Thread) ???
    Wow, you must have retained those "spotters" eagle eyes. Do you mean the blue blur in the middle distance?

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    707
    I've found the log of my next visit to LAP in 1959 when I did the bus tour (with the cleanest bus windows in the world!). Unfortunately still no film and I didn't record aircraft I'd already seen!
    Jim
    Attached Images Attached Images

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    707
    Thanks for those extra gap-fillers Laurence - I couldn't read them all off at the time! (I think G-ANUD is a typo though as G-ANUD was a Tiger Moth?).
    I didn't bother re-recording G-AOTI at the time presumably as I'd already seen it at Hawarden in 1956! I do remember seeing it after that though!
    Jim

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

 

- Part of the    Network -

KEY AERO AVIATION NEWS

MAGAZINES

AVIATION FORUM

SHOP

 

WEBSITES