Croydon Airport was the home of Imperial Airways and the main airport for London in the 1920s and 30s.
Croydon Airport first opened as Croydon Aerodrome on 29 March 1920. Small air companies ran regular scheduled flights carrying passengers, mail and goods to Paris, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The creation of Imperial Airways in 1924 extended the scale and range of services. In its first year of operation, the company flew 853,042 miles, carried 11,395 passengers and 212,380 letters.
The airport developed quickly. The runway was lengthened, hangars sprang up and the centrepiece of the redevelopment, the first purpose-designed airport terminal in the world, opened on 2 May 1928.
In the 1920s and 30s, Croydon Aerodrome was glamorous and exciting. Great early aviators made record-breaking journeys. In 1930, Amy Johnson flew from Croydon to Australia, the first woman to do so, and returned to a hero's welcome. Even scheduled flights offered style and luxury.
A few days before war was declared in 1939, Croydon Airport was closed. It transformed into a Royal Air Force fighter station and was on the front line in the Battle of Britain. On 15 August 1940, the airport was a target during the first major raid of the war on the London area. Despite this, Croydon's fighter pilots helped to defend London and southeast England and held off waves of attacks.
Croydon Airport was handed back for civilian use in February 1946 but, in the same year, Heathrow was designated as London's main airport. Croydon did not have room to cope with ever-larger planes and greater numbers of flights, and began to decline. The last scheduled plane flew out of Croydon Airport on 30 September 1959.
- Croydon Aerodrome
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