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

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

Heathrow is now the country’s busiest airport, but before it grew into the huge transport hub it is today, there was another London airport that catered to international travel.

Croydon Airport was once the busiest airport in the world

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Croydon Airport was once the busiest airport in the worldPhoto credit: Getty

In fact, Britain’s first major international airport was at Croydon, with flights to Paris and Brussels being among the first passenger services to fly into the airport.

The port itself was created when RAF Station Croydon (aka Beddington) and Waddon Aerodrome were merged into a single hub in the 1920s.

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

Both stations had been used by the Luftwaffe during World War I but were repurposed in the interwar period.

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Inside the abandoned airport that sat empty for ten years after it was finally closed
By 1934 there were 1146 employees at the airport and it was used for intercontinental travel

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By 1934 there were 1146 employees at the airport and it was used for intercontinental travelPhoto credit: Flickr

By 1934 there were 1146 employees at the airport and airlines began using it for intercontinental travel.

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

During its lifetime it became the largest airport in the world and also the first purpose-built airport in the world.

It had the first air traffic control tower and that’s where radio location was developed.

The Airport House can be recognized by the de Havilland Heron affixed to the front

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The Airport House can be recognized by the de Havilland Heron affixed to the frontPhoto credit: Geograph

The “Mayday” distress call was even created at the airport by Chief Radio Officer Stanley Mockford.

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

After World War II, it was recovered as the country’s only major airport, despite an Luftwaffe raid on the terminal and airfield in 1940.

It remained so until 1946, when Heathrow became Britain’s main airport.

After Gatwick was redeveloped in 1958, Croydon finally 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 listed building.

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

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Meanwhile, this derelict UK airport has been deserted for a decade.

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

The airport closed in 1959 after being expanded to both Heathrow and Gatwick

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The airport closed in 1959 after being expanded to both Heathrow and GatwickPhoto credit: Croydon Airport

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/20308899/croydon-airport-international-flights-uk/ Inside the abandoned London airport which once had the only international flights in the UK

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