Airports - IRLondon's first airport for civilian flights was Croydon Aerodrome, which opened in 1920. Heathrow opened to civil aviation in 1946 and is now London's main airport.

Four other civilian airports operated in 20th-century London.


Surrey Aero Club began flying at Gatwick in 1930, on a site next to a race course. The novelty flights attracted many spectators and in 1934 the Air Ministry issued the site with a commercial aircraft licence. Just one year later, a train station opened at Gatwick. In 1936 passengers boarded the first scheduled air service from Gatwick to Paris. The single fare for the flight cost 4 pounds and 5 shillings (160.22 in 2006) and included the first-class train fare from Victoria.

During the Second World War, the airport was requisitioned for use by the R.A.F. In 1956 the site began to be transformed into 'the new London Airport'. Costing 7.8 million to build, Gatwick Airport reopened in 1958. It was the first airport in the world to combine air, rail and road transport in a single unit. At the end of the 20th century, Gatwick Airport had two terminals and over 31 million passengers annually.

Bookmark with:

  • What are these?