Inside the abandoned London airport which once had the only international flights in the UK | The Sun

THERE are more than 30 international airports operating in the UK, but few people know which was the first major airport to offer flights abroad.

Heathrow is the country's biggest airport now, but before it was developed into the huge transport hub it is today, there was another London airport providing international travel.

In fact, the UK's first major international airport was in Croydon, with flights to Paris and Brussels among the first passenger services to fly to and from the airport.

The port itself had been created when RAF Station Croydon (also known as Beddington) and Waddon Aerodrome were combined to create one single hub during the 1920s.

Croydon was selected as the best location for international travel after the previously used Hounslow Heath was reclaimed by the RAF in 1919.

Both stations had been used by the air force during World War 1, but were repurposed during the interwar period.

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By 1934 there were 1146 employees at the airport and airlines were beginning to use it for intercontinental travel.

Services to India, the Middle East, East Asia, Africa, and Australasia all took off from Croydon before it had to be used as a Royal Air Force base for World War 2.

During its time in operation, it became the biggest airport in the world and also the world's first purpose-built airport.

It had the first air traffic control tower and radio position fixing was developed there.

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Airport House is recognisable by the de Havilland Heron mounted out the frontCredit: Geograph

The "mayday" distress call was even created at the airport by senior radio officer Stanley Mockford.

A new terminal and control tower was built there in 1928, which was the world's largest and most advanced control tower at the time.

After World War 2 it was re-established as the country's only major airport, despite a Luftwaffe raid on the terminal and airfield in 1940.

It stayed that way until 1946 when Heathrow became the UK's main airport.

After Gatwick was redeveloped in 1958, Croydon was eventually closed a year later.

Most of the former airport has been built on, although some of the terminal buildings remain and the former terminal building itself is a grade II listed building.

It is called Airport House and is recognisable by the de Havilland Heron, a small propeller plane, mounted at the front.

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Meanwhile, this deserted airport in the UK has been left abandoned for a decade.

And this abandoned plane used to carry Walt Disney and his friends and family around the world.


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