LHR is LXX a look at what happened to its environs since its opening

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London Heathrow Turns 70!

May 31, 2016 is the official 70th anniversary of the opening of this world aviation terminus.

London Heathrow (LHR) is the UK’s top airport and has fallen to #5 among the world’s busiest airports with 74.98 million passengers. In 2016 it celebrates its 70th birthday (LXX) and it qualifies as one of the most contentious public policy issues because of the noise which emanates from its airplanes.

Its list of the historic moments deserves mention, for those attractive events help focus the public’s attention to this major public utility and economic engine. At the same time, this once rural facility is now a center of controversy due to the large population which now surrounds this major international air transportation hub.

Since its transition from a UK military air base to a civil airfield in 1946, LHR has seen 20,000,000 flights and 2,000,000,000 passengers pass through its runways and terminals. A full history is recorded in the following articles:

london heathrow

london heathrow

While it is enjoyable to relive all of those memorable moments, it is appropriate at this birthday to review LHR’s history as to its role in this area southwest of London.

If one traces the site back to pre-War World II, the Hamlet of Heathrow looked like this map. In 1928 the Fairey Aviation Company Limited opened an aircraft factory there and tested their products over the community.

london heathrow

The original scan from which this extract was taken was made by Andrew Rowbottom and displayed at Old Ordnance Survey Maps., CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia

During that War the facility was requisitioned and preparations were made to convert it for a bomber squadron. That project was deferred by Churchill to devote those resources to Operation Overlord.

Its next use was as London’s airport (see below map) and the original Air Ministry design was adjusted to used by airlines by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

london heathrow

The original scan from which this extract was taken was made and displayed at New Popular Edition Maps., CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia

Scheduled operations were initiated in 1946. Here’s a picture of that first commercial flight.

london heathrow

As international aviation grew, the London airport was expanded to the configuration shown in the below 1955 picture[3].

london heathrow

(note: the relatively limited surrounding development)
By The National Archives UK – Heathrow Star Our Catalogue Reference: BT 219/115, Wikimedia

Between 1960 to today, the LHR terminals and runways were increased to capture the escalating traffic. It is among the, if not THE, greatest connecting hubs for all major foreign carriers and the domestically originating travelers seeking to reach overseas business and vacation destinations. The complex contributes dramatically to the national economy with estimates as high as $5 Billion.

The current LHR flights are depicted in this graphic:

london heathrow

The present airport looks like this:

london heathrow

And a recent noise footprint looks like this:

london heathrow

Over its 70+ years London Heathrow has responded to the demands of the world’s travel, has contributed to the finances of its homeland and yes, added noise to those who live proximately to it.

Happy Birthday LHR and best wishes for the future.


ARTICLE: Heathrow Airport Celebrates Its 70th Birthday

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1 Comment on "LHR is LXX a look at what happened to its environs since its opening"

  1. Nice article but your present day Heathrow image must be at least 15 years out of date. T5 is not even a construction site on that image and it opened in May 2007!

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