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Journey Back in Time: Vintage Snapshots of Heathrow Airport, London in the 1950s

Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, fifth busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. In 2014, it handled a record 73.4 million passengers, a 1.4 percent increase from 2013.However, the airport started life in 1946 as a small grass airfield. Privately owned, the Great Western Aerodrome was used largely for test flying with commercial flights taking off from nearby Heston and Hanworth Park airfields.By 1947 three runways had been completed and work on another three – subsequently abandoned as unnecessary – was going on. A new, permanent building arose in the central area at the start of the 1950s, replacing the tent.As traffic boomed Heathrow Airport found itself with an ever-increasing demand for passenger facilities. The Queen inaugurated a new building in 1955 (Terminal 2) and the tunnel which provides the main road access to Heathrow’s central area was opened.

Seating in the Europa building, now called Terminal 2, 1950s.

 

The Heathrow Air Traffic Control Tower, 1955.

 

Entrance to public post office, 1955.

Hungarian-American actress Zsa Zsa Gabor arrives at Heathrow, 1956.

 

Restaurant and cafeteria, 1950s.

 

Fortes Duty Free shop, 1950s.

 

Marilyn Monroe with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller, 1956.

 

Fortes snack bar, 1950s.

 

Fortes snack bar, 1950s.

 

Cocktail bar, 1950s.

 

Fortes Grill and Griddle restaurant, 1950s.

 

Fortes Grill and Griddle restaurant, 1950s.

 

Elizabeth Taylor and husband, film producer Mike Todd, arriving at Heathrow, 1958.

 

Britannic Bar, 1950s.

 

Britannic Bar, 1950s.

 

Airside, restaurant seating area overlooking apron, 1950s.

 

Lord Anthony Moynihan, 3rd Baron Moynihan, is greeted on arrival at Heathrow by ‘Miss Calypso of 1957’ Julia Martin, 1957.

 

Airside, restaurant seating area overlooking apron, 1950s.

 

Fortes Grill and Griddle restaurant, 1950s.

 

American opera singer Maria Callas, 1958.

 

Airside restaurant seating area, 1950s.

 

Central restaurant prep area, 1950s.

 

 Aircraft catering, 1950s.

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