Markus Lenz

Aviation - Aerial Photography - Airborne Imagery

Aerial Reconnaissance and Imagery Intelligence as well as Research of historical aerial photographs and aerial views

London Croydon Airport

Once Croydon Airport was the United Kingdom's major and only international airport during the interwar period. Located in Croydon, South London, England, it opened in 1920 and was developed as Britain's main airport, handling more cargo, mail and passengers than any other airport at the time. During World War II the airport was named RAF Croydon as its role changed to that of a fighter airfield during the Battle of Britain. Then Croydon Airport was used to transport thousands of troops into and out of Europe. After World War II, its role returned to civil aviation, but the role of London's primary international airport passed to London Heathrow Airport.

London Croydon Airport - Aerial View 1926

London Croydon Airport - Aerial View 1926

In December 1915, Beddington Aerodrome was established - one of a number of small airfields around London that were created for protection against Zeppelin airship raids during the First World War. Also Waddon Aerodrome was opened in 1918, to serve aircraft test flights. Beddington Aerodrome became a large Reserve Aircraft and Training aerodrome for the Royal Flying Corps. At the end of the First World War the aerodrome was retained, becoming an important training airfield for the newly formed Royal Air Force. Finally, these two aerodromes were combined following the end of the First World War to become Croydon Aerodrome, the gateway for all international flights to and from London.

The new aerodrome opened on 29 March 1920. Croydon was the first airport in the world to introduce air traffic control, a control tower and radio position-fixing procedures. The aerodrome control tower was commissioned on 25 February 1920 and provided basic traffic, weather and location information to pilots. On the formation of Britain's first national airline, Imperial Airways, on 31 March 1924, Croydon became the new airline's operating base. Croydon Aerodrome was greatly enlarged between 1926 and 1928, including the first purpose-designed airport terminal and air traffic control tower, the world's first airport hotel and extensive hangars. The new buildings and layout began operations on 20 January 1928.

Historical Aeronautical Chart and Aerodrome Map of London Croydon Airport

Historical Aeronautical Chart and Aerodrome Map of London Croydon Airport

Following the end of the war, it was realised that post-war airliners and cargo aircraft would be larger and that air traffic would intensify. The urban spread of south London and the growth of surrounding villages had enclosed Croydon Airport and left it little room for expansion. Therefore, Heathrow was designated as London's airport. Finally, it was decided in 1952 that the airport would eventually be closed. The last scheduled flight from Croydon departed on 30 September 1959. Today much of the site has been built over, but some of the terminal buildings are still visible. For example, the former terminal building is called Airport House and the former control tower houses a visitors' centre. Also a memorial to those lost in the Battle of Britain stands slightly to the south. All that remains of the runways is a small area of tarmac about 400 feet or 120 metres long.


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