History

A PLACE IN HISTORY

With the March 1920 closure of the temporary aerodrome at Hounslow Heath, Croydon became operational as London Terminal Aerodrome on 29th March 1920. It began life using the former 1915 World War One airfield, with commercial operations commencing when the RAF vacated the aerodrome. Britain’s first airport expansion Act of Parliament in 1925 led to the 1926 redevelopment of the airport with the completion of the new buildings in 1928.

It was a place of momentous historic events, record breaking flights, innovations and the creation of Britain’s international airline, Imperial Airways. Imperial Airways went on to become today’s British Airways. The first innovations in Air Traffic Control were developed here – the international distress call “Mayday” was created by London Croydon Airport Radio Officer F.S. “Stanley” Mockford in 1923.

The 1920’s and 30’s saw a host of daring and record breaking flights from London Croydon Airport that made the aviators and aviatrixes global celebrities. Women such as Amy Johnson and Jean Batten became household names and competed alongside their male counterparts, such as Jim Mollision, Charles Kingsford-Smith and Sir Alan Cobham.

The magnificent terminal building (originally known as the Administration Building) was part of the 1926 airport redevelopment. When opened in 1928, it became the world’s first purpose built airport terminal and Croydon became the biggest and most advanced airport in the world. It set new standards for air travel and was designed around the two key airport processes- Departure and Arrival.

Designed, constructed and operated by the Air Ministry, the architects produced a wholly new type of airport building. There were no other airport terminals for the Air Ministry architects to study (none had been built at that time) but they produced a truly exceptional design. For the first time they brought together all key airport functions and processes in one super-efficient building, sequencing each step of the airport process through a series of designated zones. 

Located in Greater London, it developed over four decades and has been known under a variety of names- Royal Flying Corps Station Beddington, Waddon Aerodrome, RAF Station Beddington, Croydon Aerodrome, Air Port of London, London Terminal Aerodrome, RAF Croydon and finally Croydon Airport. With the dawn of air travel at the beginning of the 20th Century, London Croydon Airport was a hotbed for technical innovations and developments. A journey by air today still uses the innovations created at Croydon.