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Heathrow before the Europa terminal and Queens building

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Heathrow before the Europa terminal and Queens building

Old 5th Mar 2021, 06:35
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Heathrow before the Europa terminal and Queens building

I've been looking to get a sense of how Heathrow worked before the permanent structures (Europa and Queens buildings) were completed post-war. I've seen discussions on here about it's past, with pictures of the post war tents for example, and it's been very interesting. But I've gained little grasp on how it was organised and how it was experienced by passengers. Is there a good source I could turn to? Perhaps you have any experiences of visiting Heathrow before the proper terminals were built?

Thank you in advance
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 09:29
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There are several good books on the history of Heathrow. For example:

"Heathrow - From Tents to Terminal 5" by Ian Anderson
"Heathrow - 2000 Years of History" by Philip Sherwood

Wikipedia also has a good history of the airport: History of Heathrow Airport - Wikipedia



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Old 5th Mar 2021, 13:45
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
There are several good books on the history of Heathrow.
Thank you kindly for that, I'll look into the books. And thank you for the picture as well, it's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for (among descriptions). Do you know when it's taken and what's showing? Passenger terminals?

For other curious about Heathrow I have found some old photos, but I'm not yet allowed to post links sadly.
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 17:00
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Dave I assume that image is of Heathrow North which I think was at one time essentially The International Terminal. I don't know when it was closed but I remember quite by chance bumping into a pal from school there - that would have been roundabout 1960ish......?
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 17:35
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Originally Posted by OUAQUKGF Ops View Post
Dave I assume that image is of Heathrow North which I think was at one time essentially The International Terminal. I don't know when it was closed but I remember quite by chance bumping into a pal from school there - that would have been roundabout 1960ish......?
Yes, I believe it was in use until the Oceanic Building (later T3) opened in 1961.
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 17:45
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Northside was still in use as the 'Royal' apron until much later; I remember Air Force One parking and departing from there in 1970 when I was an assistant at the old LATCC Radar Unit.
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 17:59
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Originally Posted by Leovinus View Post
I've been looking to get a sense of how Heathrow worked before the permanent structures (Europa and Queens buildings) were completed post-war. I've seen discussions on here about it's past, with pictures of the post war tents for example, and it's been very interesting. But I've gained little grasp on how it was organised and how it was experienced by passengers. Is there a good source I could turn to? Perhaps you have any experiences of visiting Heathrow before the proper terminals were built?

Thank you in advance
In the early '50s we couldn't afford a car so day trips during the summer holidays by train or bus was the 'norm'.
We lived in Chesham, Bucks and at least once a year, our parents would take us to 'London Airport' by Greenline to Uxbridge then transferring to a red bus which stopped on the Bath Road near the terminal building.
I remember walking through the tents to access the public viewing area; initially (before the tunnel was built) all spectators were 'marshalled'; across the taxiway which was of course active at the time to an area between the central area still under construction and 28R (which was presumably not in use at that time due to the construction of the tunnel by the 'cut and cover' method involving the digging of a huge trench), where there were refreshment stands and joyrides in Dragon Rapides available. On one occasion, two RAF Meteors landed and they came and parked next to the joyriding aircraft; one single seat (presumably F8) and the other two seat (T7?).
This must have been about 1952 to about 1954, (I was born in 1948 so I was still very young) then when the tunnel opened, we would walk to the spectator area through this.
In 1956, London Transport ran Greenlines into the central area where the Queens Building and what was to become T2 were then open.

Last edited by chevvron; 6th Mar 2021 at 10:12.
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 18:31
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I've seen one picture of the interior, check-in desks. Would the North building have contained waiting areas and customs as well, or was that relegated to adjoining prefabs/Nissen huts/tents?

It baffles me slightly that Heathrow took so long to see any major improvements considering it was the first welcome to Britain for new travellers. But it's also charming in a way. Certainly would have given foreigners, like myself, a taste of the "make-do-and-mend" mentality that Britain is so famous for.
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 18:36
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Thank you kindly for that information. I thought I had replied, but seems it got lost in the ether. Wonderful picture, would you happen to know when it was taken and what it's depicting? I see OUAQUKGF Ops mention Heathrow North which I'm sad to say I can't pinpoint in the clutter of small buildings.

I'll see if I can find those books as well, would you suggest any one over the other for someone on the hunt for a thorough description of the happening, amenities, and layout of the pre-1955 era?
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 19:04
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Originally Posted by Leovinus View Post
Thank you kindly for that information. I thought I had replied, but seems it got lost in the ether. Wonderful picture, would you happen to know when it was taken and what it's depicting? I see OUAQUKGF Ops mention Heathrow North which I'm sad to say I can't pinpoint in the clutter of small buildings.
A better view of the northside terminal:



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Old 5th Mar 2021, 19:13
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Charles Woodley also did a book on the early days of Heathrow Airport, I cannot comment on how it compares to the other titles mentioned though. A search on that South American river site shows various Heathrow related titles, such as this one.
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Old 5th Mar 2021, 20:33
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1958/9 - I recall walking from the the BOAC Crew Reporting and Flight Operations office, known as Building 221, across the apron and on to the Stratocruisers, alongside Britannias, Connies, Argonauts and DC-7C's parked at the Northside terminal, also awaiting our passengers. This "apron" was parallel to the Slough (name?) Rd. near the subsequent entrance to the tunnel into the new Central Area, Queens Bldg, T.2 etc. BOAC crews subsequently parked at the BOAC building at Hatton Cross on the Staines Rd, officially named Tech. Block A, which housed aircraft hangar and maintenance facilities as well as being the Corporate headquarters, but called The Kremlin by most employees, and were then bussed to the Central Area Crew Reporting, Operations Centre in T.2 from where we would eventually walk out to our aircraft, before "Elf and Safety" got into the act. No yellow jackets in those days, commonsense prevailed. BOAC also built a training Empire at Cranebank, just up the road from Hatton Cross towards Hounslow.

Fond memories of it all.
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 07:01
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This "apron" was parallel to the Slough (name?) Rd.
?Bath Road?

I was based at LHR '89 onwards and am trying to visualise where the picture provided by the OP fits in with my much ore recent model of the airport..

With regard to the image in the OP - Am correct in thinking the minor road with a bend in it heading away from the viewer, centre view towards the top, is the Sipson Road, and if that's the case the Terminal being talked upthread was situated somewhere near the current Renaissance Hotel (I think that's what it's called this week)?

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Old 6th Mar 2021, 08:27
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Wiggy, yes, Sipson Road.

Here's the site around 1960.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoo...layers=193&b=1

Use the "change transparency" slider in the search box to see it today.
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 08:39
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Originally Posted by treadigraph View Post
Wiggy, yes, Sipson Road.

Here's the site around 1960.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoo...layers=193&b=1

Use the "change transparency" slider in the search box to see it today.
Excellent resource, thank you.
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 09:00
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Here's another view:



The northside terminal is/was directly behind the tail of the Stratocruiser.

Before my time, needless to say, but I can vaguely remember how the Northern Perimeter Road still used to kink around the rear of the buildings in the top left of the photo in the early 70s.
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 09:41
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Originally Posted by ExSp33db1rd View Post
1958/9 - I recall walking from the the BOAC Crew Reporting and Flight Operations office, known as Building 221, across the apron and on to the Stratocruisers, alongside Britannias, Connies, Argonauts and DC-7C's parked at the Northside terminal, also awaiting our passengers. This "apron" was parallel to the Slough (name?) Rd. near the subsequent entrance to the tunnel into the new Central Area, Queens Bldg, T.2 etc. BOAC crews subsequently parked at the BOAC building at Hatton Cross on the Staines Rd, officially named Tech. Block A, which housed aircraft hangar and maintenance facilities as well as being the Corporate headquarters, but called The Kremlin by most employees, and were then bussed to the Central Area Crew Reporting, Operations Centre in T.2 from where we would eventually walk out to our aircraft, before "Elf and Safety" got into the act. No yellow jackets in those days, commonsense prevailed. BOAC also built a training Empire at Cranebank, just up the road from Hatton Cross towards Hounslow.

Fond memories of it all.
chevvron mentioned the marshalling kids across active runways. I might have a dark sense of humor, but it did make me wonder what percentage of kids returned in one piece was viewed as a successful outing!

On a side note, I must say that I've been on this forum a while as a passive observer, and your posts ExSp33db1rd are some of the ones that have been a special pleasure to read. Have you ever thought of writing a book?
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 09:49
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
Here's another view:

The northside terminal is/was directly behind the tail of the Stratocruiser.

Before my time, needless to say, but I can vaguely remember how the Northern Perimeter Road still used to kink around the rear of the buildings in the top left of the photo in the early 70s.
I've got a special fondness for early post-war Britain over-all. And as an aviation nut these are the things that absolutely make my day. Thank you DaveReidUK. Looks like an Elizabethan down on the right of the picture too.

I've come roughly half-way through Robin Highams wonderful book "Speedbird: The Complete History of BOAC". But while it gives very detailed accounts of the management and political wrangling it doesn't, at least not so far, give more than exceptionally brief overviews of the experience of employees throughout BOAC and of the passengers that few with them. An extra human touch if you will. I do love the book however, and would recommend it to most anyone interested in the machinations behind one of the worlds most famous airlines.
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 09:51
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Originally Posted by treadigraph View Post
Wiggy, yes, Sipson Road.

Here's the site around 1960.

Use the "change transparency" slider in the search box to see it today.
Thats absolutely wonderful, thank you!
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Old 6th Mar 2021, 10:14
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Originally Posted by Leovinus View Post
I've seen one picture of the interior, check-in desks. Would the North building have contained waiting areas and customs as well, or was that relegated to adjoining prefabs/Nissen huts/tents?

It baffles me slightly that Heathrow took so long to see any major improvements considering it was the first welcome to Britain for new travellers. But it's also charming in a way. Certainly would have given foreigners, like myself, a taste of the "make-do-and-mend" mentality that Britain is so famous for.
Bear in mind that Northolt had been used up until about 1950/51 for some flights and terminal facilities had to be built there too.
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