London Heathrow in the 1960s


In those days air travel was only just becoming affordable for the masses and for many watching airliners at airports was as close as one could get. In fact it was considered a good family day out.  Aircraft spotters and those accompanying departing or arriving passengers had the run of the extensive roof terraces on top of the Queens Building and the then Terminals 1 (European) and 2 (Domestic) in the building which is now know as Terminal 2.  No views restricted by extensions to the building airside and air-conditioning plant!  Also no security worries.

The big breakthrough for me as an aircraft spotter was the replacement of the much loved London Transport trolley buses by Routemasters because the resulting reconfiguration of local bus routes provided me with the 285 from my home town to Heathrow.  This route also gave the opportunity to observe the maintenance area and the north eastern part of the perimeter road - both normally closed to the public - from the top of a bus.  So  (remembering this was in an age when unaccompanied children regularly travelled by public transport) armed with my current Civil Aircraft Markings and Recognition books, maybe my Dad's binoculars, and the inevitable sandwiches and bottle of pop, visits to Heathrow's roof terraces during school holidays was regular event.


genaeral view from the roof terraces (28333 bytes)

This fuzzy picture begins to show what it was all about. To today's eyes it is uncluttered (terraces, aprons and runways!).

I can just make out BEA (red square livery) Vanguards and Tridents, maybe a British Eagle BAC 1-11.  BEA spotting-wise I "copped" all the Viscounts, Vanguards and Comets  which had been in service some time, plus caught the Trident One, Two and Threes and BAC 1-11s as they were introduced. The crowning moment was always to see the last one of the set!


 a closer view of the apron (36603 bytes)

A closer view of the apron - BEA Vanguards Viscounts and  Comets in the foreground, I think I can also make out in the background a British Eagle Britannia and their BAC 1-1 mentioned above.

The one thing that catches my eye in this picture which is quintessential of the age is the Shell-BP aviation fuel tanker.  If I recall correctly the diecast model car firm Budgie made a version. I always wanted one, I never did!


European terminal stands (31735 bytes)

Some of the European terminal stands, with a British Eagle BAC 1-11 and BEA Trident.  In those days passengers had to walk down sloped corridors to ground level and either across the apron and up mobile stairs, or travel in a bus, as seen on the left, to a remote stand.  But note in the right next to the 1-11 an early airbridge.

From Europe at the time there were, amongst others,  Air France Caravelles, KLM Electras and Spantax Coronados to keep an eye on.

The above 3 and 1 below photographs are thought to have been taken between 1964 and 1966.


view towards terminal 3 (30494 bytes)

Looking across to the then new terminal 3 with BOAC VC10s and Boeing 707s in evidence, notice the right hand VC10 in the foreground has the earlier "stepped" cheatline.  When copping the BOAC fleet I caught up with their Comet 4s and Boeing 707s but took in all the VC10s and super VC10s, not to mention the Boeing 747s, as they were introduced.

For atmosphere add to these Pam Am and TWA 707s - my schoolfriends and I always reckoned that TWA pilots did the slickest - least rubber burning - touchdowns.


holding point of runway 28L (15435 bytes)

The holding point for (what was then designated) runway 28L from a very privileged position - as will be explained on the next page.  Left to right a Lufthansa Boeing 737, a BOAC VC10 and a Lufthansa Boeing 707. This picture was taken in 1970.


The forecourt of Terminal 3 in the 1960s

Well it certainly is not like this now! This is the forecourt of Terminal 3 in the 1960s, relatively soon after opening, certainly when BOAC were using Comet 4s on main routes. If I recall correctly in those days both departures and arrivals were within one building (the one to the left), such was the quantity of flights back then.

photograph by Doreen Gammon


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