Heathrow Airport – Its humble beginnings


For passengers who often visit Heathrow, it is hard for them to even imagine its humble origins. There is practically nothing available today at one of the world’s busiest airports that indicate that in the beginning it was just a village with tents on a grassy field. That is the humble origins of Heathrow Airport that began in the early part of the 20th century. Now, it accommodates and serves as an entry and exit point for millions of passengers every year.

It initially began as a military airport and also served as a training area for the British Flying Corps during the First World War. In its early stages of operation it was known as Hounslow Aerodrome and functioned from 1914-1919. However, the site had to be abandoned in 1920 due to the uneven landscape, fog and weather conditions that lasted from autumn throughout winter. It was only a decade later in 1930, that Heathrow once again became operational.

If you are planning to travel to London and it is your designated entry point to London, it would be better to book accommodation like a hotel close to Heathrow Airport Terminal 1. The reason being, it will make commuting to and from the airport a much easier experience and you will be able to avoid the hassle of being stuck in heavy traffic. You will find many a good hotel close to Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 and you can make your reservations online.

The history of the transformation of Heathrow to its modern self and the addition of its five Terminals to its main building is just as fascinating. Here is a brief look at the history of its 5 Terminals:

Terminal 1
Terminal 1 was inaugurated in May 1969 by Queen Elizabeth. It served as the domestic network base of British Airways flights from Heathrow to overseas destinations. This continued until Terminal 5 became operational much later. It is 803, 000 sq ft in area and was renovated in 2005.After its renovation a new eastern extension was added with the departure lounge being expanded.This also helped to create additional space for retail shops as well as improved seating facilities. It serves as home to a number of major airlines.

Terminal 2
This is considered to be the oldest Heathrow terminal and was inaugurated way back in 1955. The designers initially planned the terminal to handle approximately 1.2 million passengers on an annual basis. At that time no one envisaged the airline and travel industry would expand so exponentially. Once the passenger rate began to swell and began to touch close to 8 million annually, it genuinely needed to be renovated. As a result it was demolished and plans were drawn up to rebuild the entire site with an expanded area that would equal the size of Terminal 5.

Terminal 3
This was previously known as the Oceanic Terminal and began functioning on 13 November 1961. During its initial stages, it offered a direct helicopter service to the Central part of London for which a helipad was installed on the roof of the building. In 1968 it was renamed as Terminal 3 and in 1970 the authorities decided on a lavish expansion plan for it. This lead to the construction of the arrivals building and later in 2006 a new addition was Pier 6,which provided extra space for the new Airbus A380 Superjumbo. The authorities added a four lane drop-off area along with a large path for passengers to walk. A canopy was added in 2007 to protect the passengers from the elements.

Terminal 4
This terminal is massive being spread out over an area of 1,140, 200 sq ft, and serves as the home base for the Sky Team alliance as well as other non-affiliated carriers. It was started in 1986 and is at the side of the cargo terminal through which it connects to other terminals. Alarge sum of £200m was invested for it to serve 45 airlines and a forecourt constructed to control traffic congestion. Some its main attractions include renovated piers, departure lounges, an extended check-in area etc.

Terminal 5
This terminal became operational in March 2008. There were a few technical glitches in its early phases but it managed to overcome all its initial technical issues successfully. The credit goes to the airport’s technical enhancements and overall staff management. It consists of a four storey central complex which is linked to two satellite buildings via an automated transit system. It cost a whopping £4.3 billion and covers an area of 3,200,000 sq ft. Its Concourse B itself spans an area of 650,000 ft.

As is evident a great deal of expansion and development lies behind the marvel we know today as modern day Heathrow Airport. It is reputed to be out of the most sophisticated and advanced airports in the modern world, with some of the finest facilities and services on offer. If we compare its humble beginnings with its modern evolution it becomes all the more impressive.