Heston

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Heston Airport in 1938
Heston Airport in 1930

Heston Aerodrome west of London was Jersey’s first main direct link with the capital. Jersey Airways operated flights there from West Park beach between 1934 and 1936 and then from the new Jersey Airport in 1937-40. Heston did not reopen for commercial flights after the war and Jersey Airways switched to Croydon.

Remains of Heston can still be found on the border of the Heston and Cranford areas of Hounslow.

Neville Chamberlain

Perhaps the airport’s main claim to fame was that in 1938, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, flew from Heston to Munich for talks with Adolf Hitler, and returned to Heston with the paper referred to in his later "peace in our time" speech from 10 Downing Street.

The Airwork Company, directed by Sir Nigel Norman (later Air Commodore) opened Heston aerodrome for flying clubs and private aeroplane owners in 1929, with some charter flying. In the 1930s, with new companies springing up to compete with Imperial Airways, Heston was in a good position to take advantage. Spartan Airways was the first airline to use Heston, with a twice-daily service to Cowes in the Isle of Wight. Other services and airlines followed, including from 1938, British Airways, who wanted an alternative to the waterlogged Gatwick.

In 1937, the airport was bought by the Air Ministry and developed to become almost as large as Croydon Airport, making it London's second airport at that time. With the outbreak of World War II, civil flying was suspended.

During the late 1930s, the British government had been studying the future of air transport and airports in the London area. It had been decided that London would be served by 4 airports - Croydon, Heston and new airfields at Fairlop in Essex and Lullingstone, Kent. To this end, improvements and extensions had already begun at Heston with the intention of bringing it up to the most modern standards of airports elsewhere in Europe.

Wartime

The Air Ministry had intended to take over the site from Airwork Ltd in September 1939, but the outbreak of war intervened and the plans were never implemented. Heston ceased to be a civil airport in mid 1940 and most of its services still operating were transferred to Gatwick.

During the second world war, RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes flew from Heston airport, followed by US Air Force Flying Fortress bombers. With the war over, the old plans for 4 London airports were scrapped. Heathrow was by then chosen as the main London Airport, and its proximity would have made flying from Heston impossible.

Car racing was carried out for a short time after the airfield had closed using the old perimeter track.

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