Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

Croydon Airport

Old 19th Dec 2001, 16:12
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Bedfordshire
Age: 41
Posts: 302
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Unhappy Croydon Airport

Croydon Airport, long gone now... Does anyone have any memories of living near, working at or flying from Croydon?

All that remains now apart from the well preserved control tower with DH Heron (I think) outside seems to be a hangar and a strip of concrete which looks like the SE end of one of the runways...

Anyone have any memories of the dying days of the airport? Photos etc?
No comment is offline  
Old 19th Dec 2001, 23:17
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 26
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

Croydon? Didn't that used to be an airport?

I'm far too young to know anything about that, but about 10 years ago I worked with an air traffic controller who had started his career at Croydon. (must have been late 1940's early 1950's)

Amongst the tales he told me about the place was that as a trainee ATCO on nightshift he was left alone in the tower while his mentor went home to bed... "Nothing to it...telephone if you need any help".
Spotter is offline  
Old 20th Dec 2001, 01:55
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: due south
Posts: 1,332
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

Flew from there to Geneva on a skiing holiday in Dec during the late fifties. One thing I do remember is that there wasn't a whole sealed or concrete runway but just a short length at the takeoff end. This may be the strip you refer to.

I presume this was just long enough to help the initial acceleration and allow the Dak get its tail in the air before we hit the mud,
because the place was fairly waterlogged at that time of the year.
henry crun is offline  
Old 20th Dec 2001, 08:39
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Northwest-Southwest
Posts: 93
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

If you want to know about Croydon, you need to know that there is a Croydon Airport Society, with about 800 members worldwide. No website, but tel 01737 551447; fax 01883 341442.

They have meetings, tours, a tremendous archive, and a newsletter full of esoteric good stuff--they also sell several books on the subject.
Airways Ed is offline  
Old 21st Dec 2001, 07:23
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Glorious Devon
Posts: 721
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

Ah, Croydon! Dad was on home leave from Burma in the summer of '37 and took the family there for an outing one sunny day. I would have been 9. The terminal oozed glamour (built in "Art Deco" style I think). The thing to remember is that Croydon had nothing to do with mass air travel; flying was still the perk of the very rich and the very few (and seemed to prefer it that way!). One (not I) swept up to the entrance in the "Roller", flunkies opened the door, porters (remember them?) grabbed your bags and you were whisked away to the reception desk of one of the world's leading airlines in the foyer. There were smart restaurants, "cocktail bars" and, if you just wanted to goof, like us, you were pointed towards the roof observation terrace. Here they provided a running commentary over a PA system on the aeronautical activity. (Not too busy a job for the commentator!). I remember him rapsodising over the arrival of a KLM DC1 (or 2?), a silver, streamlined dreamship, whih "cruised at 150 mph" (in awed tones). Then we watched the Imperial HP birdcage waddle off towards Paris, all four wings flapping and engines roaring without much visible effect. I seem to remember the commentator saying that the 80 mph cruise gave plenty of time for a slap up meal, preceded by cocktails. No nonsense about plastic, it was proper crockery, silver and crystal.
I eventually wore Dad down and we went along to the office of Olley's Air Services, who sold short hops around the local area for about Ten Bob (half a quid, but I would not debase it by calling it 50p! it represented a fortune to a prep schoolboy) for 15/20 mins. I seem to remember that Capt Olley was ex-RFC because he and Dad, also ex-RFC, struck up instant rapport. We climbed into a DH Dragon, a pretty little twin engined biplane with a cabin for 6-8(?)passengers, two Gypsey engines and fixed undercarriage in spats. There was no bulkhead between the pilot and the passengers, so I could watch all that Olley did like a hawk. There was no R/T, so what ATC there was must have been done by Aldis lamps. The ride was uneventful, but a bit lumpy, and Dad looked a bit glum after a bit and his conversation with Olley dried up. On the ground again, I asked him with my usual tact whether he had felt airsick. "No. I thought Olley was spending too much time chatting to me and not enough looking where he was going".
Neverthess, he enjoyed the experience enough to join the flying club at Mingladon airport when he returned to Burma, and gained his PPL in Tiger Moths. He said the Tiger was a delight, but very "twitchy" compared with the lumbering old RE8 Harry Tate that he remembered so well from the RFC. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

[ 21 December 2001: Message edited by: Flatus Veteranus ]</p>
Flatus Veteranus is offline  
Old 21st Dec 2001, 08:53
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Beyond the black stump!
Posts: 1,357
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wink

Airways, your mates must have heard you, they've got their site up; <a href="http://basic1.easily.co.uk/05F04C/02D020/" target="_blank">Croydon Airport Society.</a>

I used to work with some guys who worked for Rollason at the airport. I remember one of them showing me pictures of rows of upended, wingless Tiger Moths in storage on their noses.

I used to drive by there regularly as a child and distinctly recall puzzling over how it could be called an airport when there weren't any aircraft there anymore!

It must have been IFR's childhood haunt?
Cyclic Hotline is offline  
Old 21st Dec 2001, 11:11
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 1998
Location: 18m N of LGW
Posts: 945
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Talking

Hey CH. You got that right. I was there from five years old. Saw great sights - some of which I even remember.

Got some other memories of years after the war. I just have to find my scrap book.
InFinRetirement is offline  
Old 21st Dec 2001, 19:45
  #8 (permalink)  

Yes, Him
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: West Sussex, UK
Posts: 2,689
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

There is quite a good article in the December issue of Aeroplane on flying the HP.42 and of operating from Croydon. Including some good pix of the old tower/terminal building where, funnily enough, the Missus starts a new job in Jan.
Gainesy is offline  
Old 22nd Dec 2001, 00:08
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

A wonderful thread.

I played baseball there for many years (fields behind the "tower" have several diamonds).

Still a few folk that fly model airplanes on a Sunday.

I suppose my only other connection is that I am in the early stages of getting my CPL etc here in the USA.

Never really gave aviation a thought 7 years ago whilst running across the fields........
willbav8r is offline  
Old 22nd Dec 2001, 02:01
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: UK
Posts: 492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Post

my dad learnt to fly there before it closed and when i came to learn to fly in 1988 i turned up at biggin hill to book lessons and ended up being taught by the same guy that taught my dad. anyone know if rex nichols is still instructing , he was a couple of years ago. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

[ 21 December 2001: Message edited by: stalling attitude ]</p>
stalling attitude is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 07:41
  #11 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Bedfordshire
Age: 41
Posts: 302
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Croydon Airport

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.

thanks
NC
No comment is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 08:07
  #12 (permalink)  
Just another number
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: UK
Age: 74
Posts: 1,077
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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.

Airclues
Captain Airclues is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 08:09
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Croydon
Posts: 42
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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..?
tharg is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 15:08
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 1998
Location: 18m N of LGW
Posts: 945
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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.
InFinRetirement is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 15:18
  #15 (permalink)  
Gnome de PPRuNe
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Too close to Croydon for comfort
Age: 58
Posts: 10,406
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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!
treadigraph is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 15:49
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 414
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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.
Aerohack is offline  
Old 7th Nov 2003, 19:06
  #17 (permalink)  
Paxing All Over The World
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hertfordshire, UK.
Age: 66
Posts: 9,718
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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!
PAXboy is offline  
Old 8th Nov 2003, 00:07
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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.
willbav8r is offline  
Old 8th Nov 2003, 00:11
  #19 (permalink)  
Gnome de PPRuNe
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Too close to Croydon for comfort
Age: 58
Posts: 10,406
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ah, the Propeller, became the Hungry Horse, now boarded up... best thing really...
treadigraph is offline  
Old 8th Nov 2003, 00:19
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 145
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There is some good info/pics here, in case you have not found it.
wet wet wet is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.