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Heathrow Airport (Hardback)

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Aviation > Civil Aviation Colour Books P&S History > British History P&S History > Social History Photographic Books World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Alan Gallop
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 257
Illustrations: 86
ISBN: 9781526759184
Published: 26th June 2019



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Love it or loathe it, Heathrow is the United Kingdom’s largest and most important airport by a distance. It currently serves over 190 routes to more than 80 countries. Over £100 billion of imports and exports are handled every year, making it the UK’s primary port by value.

This fascinating book traces the often controversial development of the airport over the last 70 years from the most humble of beginnings. Thanks to the author’s in-depth knowledge the arguments for and against the building of a third runway are thoroughly and objectively described. There have been, and indeed still are, those who advocate building a brand new hub airport for London but it is a fact that Heathrow has long been the cornerstone of the local economy, providing jobs for over 70,000 staff.

This entertaining, controversial and superbly illustrated book is about much more than the bitter third runway battle. It contains many amusing anecdotes and a wealth of statistics that serve to make Heathrow such a key part of the country’s infrastructure.

I found this book to be very informative and well written, and it was a fantastic look at the history of Heathrow Airport.

Read the Full Review Here

Vintage Airfix

As featured in

The Bookseller

As Featured In

Best of British Magazine, February 2022

The photographs are terrific, with the central colour section being outstanding.

Ulster Aviation Society

Highly readable account.

Vulcan News, Spring 2020


Forwarder Magazine

This is a very interesting book, illustrated with 31 colour and 172 black and white photographs, combining solid history with many anecdotes to trace the often- controversial development of the airport. The author spent 12 years (1966-78) reporting the news from Heathrow for the national print and broadcast media. The book begins with an overview of the various aerodromes around London established either during World War One or improvised immediately afterwards. The first regular air services to mainland Europe took place from a shortlived site. Hounslow Heath, close to today’s Heathrow.

The story of Heathrow Airport’s birth in 1944 by subterfuge is told in detail. The governmental cover story was that a large new transport base was necessary to further the British war effort in the Far East. In truth, there were plenty of suitable airfields already in place, but wartime powers of requisition were employed to secure a site near London for a huge post-war civil airport. The Fairey Aviation Companys Great West Aerodrome was taken over and work began on the runways, the first commercial flights beginning in 1946.

Facilities were primitive at first. The tented terminal was replaced by huts and then a proper terminal in the Central Area in 1956. The roof garden plane- sporting vantage point gets its own entertaining chapter, while others cover the ups and downs of BOAC. British Eagle and the Concorde era. The book ends with a lucid analysis of the arguments for and against the building of a third runway, based on the author’s in-depth knowledge.

Key Aero

Chapters of 1-25 year spans on the creation of the airport, their collection of planes, employees, and new technology, as well as a whole lot of mercantile information during the time, i.e. how much things cost, entertainment, the look of things, fashion, businesses around the airport, advertisements, and what people do in their off-time. Noted occurrences and situations include the use of a chalkboard to list departures and arrivals (in place until the 1960s), terminals originally set up in post-WWII with tents, important flights and precious cargo, memories through interviews and newspaper/magazine articles from authorities and employees, renovating terminals and control towers (and unearthing archaeological sites), discontinuing the Concorde, attacks from the IRA in the 1990s, and the future of the airport, possibly building somewhere totally different.

4 Stars.

Good Reads

An excellent title, it's so engaging.

Watch the full video review here

Scale Modelling Now

This title makes as good a history of the airport that you’re ever likely to get.

IPMS Magazine

A very nicely presented history of one of the greatest airports in the world, its challenges and its prospects. The author has provided a comprehensive history of London Heathrow which is also a history of post-war air transport development – Highly Recommended

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This is a really interesting book. It is mostly text, but there are a good selection of historic photographs which haven’t been seen anywhere else, including many of the aircraft once seen at Heathrow.

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Airport Spotting

About Alan Gallop

ALAN GALLOP is an author and journalist. In 1983 he founded his own PR company specialising in promoting organisations active in travel, transportation, freight logistics, public utilities and special events. He now specialises in writing books about amazing people and the events which made them famous. He is married with two grown up children and lives in Surrey.

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