View Full Version : Croydon Airport
7th Nov 2003, 07:41
Does anyone here live near Croydon or have any old ties with the old airport?
I live in Wallington and am only 22 but often wonder what it would have been like to have the old aircraft making their approach over my house 50 years ago.
Is there anywhere that has a detailed history of the airport with photos etc? I know there is a heron (or is it a dove) on a pole outside the old terminal building but is that the only relic of years gone by?
whats the old terminal building like inside now? I heard they were going to try and restore it but heard nothing else.
Would be grateful for any input/comments. I would really like to know what it was like back in the day.
7th Nov 2003, 08:07
The control tower and booking hall are open to the public on the first Sunday of each month between 11am and 4pm. Well worth a visit.
NC - regret cannot help with on-the-spot experience of what Croydon Airport was actually like (even I am too young). Suggest you: a) get yourself down there and view excellent display in foyer (inc silver Tiger Moth hanging from roof) or b) go there on first Sunday in any month between 10am and 4pm when the Croydon Airport Society open the old control tower and, if you are lucky, assign you a personal guide (who likely CAN give you personal memories of the field). You'll be asked to bung a few shillings in the Society's collection box but, hey, worthy cause or wot? And, while I am on the subject, since Croydon was the world's first civil airport, ever - why didn't we get one of the Concorde airframes to pose outside? Two British firsts and all that? Is there still time..?
7th Nov 2003, 15:08
You can also visit Sutton Library who have a great reading section on the old aerdrome. But..........I agree with a visit to the old booking hall. The feeling is great.
7th Nov 2003, 15:18
I live within a mile, but moved here when the airport was sadly long since closed. If i nip round the other side of the office floor, beautiful view of the industrial site that was once the airport buildings, and the common that was once the landing area... Lovely morning, the sun is rising over the misty hills of South Croydon...
You used to be able to get lots of b/w postcards of aeroplanes there, the HP-42s, Argosys, etc, plus more modern types including ther Morton Heron which was the last commercial flight to leave the airport I believe, in 1958... Hence the Heron on the pole outside. The airport closed officially in 1959, but still had Rollasons building Condors and Turbulents and civillianising Tiger Moths for some years after that. Presumably they were trailered to Redhill. An acquaintance in the Dog and Bull was apprenticed there for a short while in the 50s....
Some of the pubs around here have pics - the Skylark in South Croydon seems to have an eclectic selection of images, including a Connie which never came into Croydon, and a Tiger Moth with a standing-on-the-wing passenger, which did. Ah! 1989 and the Very Last Ever Airshow at Croydon, organised by the Tiger Club.... super, Ray Hanna flying his Spitfire between the Tower block at Roundshaw (since demolished I think) and the chimney on the Indy Estate, Brendan O'Brien nearly getting arrested by a couple of flatfoots for "stealing an aeroplane" - they were fooled by the build-up to his crazy flying display... I digress... pleasureably!
7th Nov 2003, 15:49
Sutton Library Services published a whole series of books chronicling Croydon's history right up to closure in 1959. I don't know if they are still in print, but if not they should certainly be in local libraries. Tempus Publishing has published two volumes of Croydon photographs compliled by Mike Hooks. the most recent (2002) is Croydon Airport - The Peaceful Years (ISBN 0 7524 2758 X, £12.99). Recommended, though the black-and-white photo reproduction is only so-so.
The Airport Hotel (now part of a chain?) used to have framed cartoons of some of the great pilots of the pre-war era in its bar. They may still be there.
7th Nov 2003, 19:06
Most interesting and thanks for the clue about the books. My paternal grandfather was closely involved in Croydon airport in the 1920s and 30s.
He was in the RFC and then in the civil aircraft business for the rest of his life.
In the early 20s, they lived modestly in London Road and my father was born there. Later, when they moved to Ashford, Middlesex, he was at Heston and the Great West aerodrome. Many stories told about my ebullient grandfather. One of his closest friends was 'Smithy'. When he was in England, Kingsford-Smith used to stay with my grandparents and hanger his machines with my grandfather.
My own father died two years ago, so not possible to check further details!
8th Nov 2003, 00:07
Very off topic, but I used to play baseball at Roundshaw, and often saw the radio control a/c types out there. Had a few beers in the awfully bright painted pub at the intersection nearby on many occasion.
Often wondered (before and after the beer) how nice the airfield must have been in its' heyday.
8th Nov 2003, 00:11
Ah, the Propeller, became the Hungry Horse, now boarded up... best thing really...
wet wet wet
8th Nov 2003, 00:19
There is some good info/pics here (http://www.croydon.gov.uk/ledept/localstudies/cr-pastairport.htm), in case you have not found it.
8th Nov 2003, 20:01
Just found a page from Air Pictorial I stuck in a scrap book. The air show began at 1000hrs on 5th May 1980. I flew from Biggin and landed at about 1004 in my Islander G-BDWG. The first aircraft to land at Croydon since it closed in September 1959.
I was to drop the Royal Artillery parachute team which was 'fun' since the runway was only 450yds long. I got off OK - the landing was much easier!
8th Nov 2003, 20:56
CP: there's a nice colour photo of you and 'ADWG in Mike Hooks's book (see my previous post). Just starting to roll by the look of it, fine spray coming up from the wheels.
8th Nov 2003, 21:55
Thanks AH I will make a point of seeking out a copy. Ah dear Mike Hook, one of the nicer people who 'pestered' me in my offices at Biggin. Always had time for him especially at the Air Fair's. Perhaps you were there too!!!
8th Nov 2003, 23:58
<<Perhaps you were there too>.
Used to edit/write the souvenir Air Fair programme for Jock and Jim back in the 80s.