West London Air Terminal

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West London Air Terminal
West London Air Terminal, 1976.jpg
General information
StatusClosed (since 1 January 1974)
TypeAirport terminal
LocationKensington, London, UK
Opened6 October 1957

The West London Air Terminal was a check-in facility for British European Airways at Heathrow Airport. It was located on Cromwell Road in Kensington, London and was in operation from 6 October 1957 to 1 January 1974. After passengers checked in their baggage and received their boarding passes, they would travel to Heathrow Airport by coach. One of the drawbacks of using the terminal for checking in was that road traffic could delay the coaches and ultimately delay the departure of the flight.[1]


Heathrow Airport started to gradually replace Croydon Airport as London's main airport from 1946 onwards. Croydon Airport used a location near London Victoria station as its airport terminal but this location was unsuitable for Heathrow Airport so a committee consisting of the airlines, British Railways and London Transport decided to build a new terminal in West London. In the committee's report of 1954, the best site for the terminal was the Cromwell Curve, a disused section of railway line owned by London Transport that provided easy access to Heathrow Airport by road. The terminal was designed to replace the Waterloo Air Terminal.[2][3] British European Airways (BEA) wanted the terminal ready by September 1957 so a temporary building was erected by Costain Group.[4] The terminal was built in four and a half months,[2] and opened on 6 October 1957.[5][6]

In the 1960s, a permanent building was built by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts.[4] The architect of this building was Sir John Burnet, Tait and Partners.[4][7][8] The new £5 million air terminal was opened by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 6 November 1963.[9][10] The six floors above the terminal's concourse were occupied by BEA's passenger-handling staff, reservations unit and accountants.[8]

On 26 February 1962, BEA introduced their electronic reservations unit at the terminal. On 17 April 1965, BEA’s automatic seat reservation system came into operation. In November 1969, BEA's computerised check-in system came into use.[11]

Routemasters with orange and white livery towing luggage trailers outside Heathrow Terminal 2

On 11 May 1972, BEA announced the closure of the check-in facilities at the terminal.[12][13] The check-in facilities closed on 1 January 1974.[14] However, bus services running between the terminal and Heathrow Airport operated until March 1979.[15]

In 1983, a Sainsbury's superstore opened in the western half of the building.[4][16] The building was bought by Regalian and three Singapore-based partners in August 1997,[17] and converted to Point West apartments above the Sainsbury's store.[18][19]


  • On 7 December 1963, a fire affected the fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the terminal.[10]
  • On 28 September 1973, eight people were injured when a bomb exploded in the terminal.[20][21][22]


  1. ^ "Users' Committee wants West London Check-in". Flight International. November 1973.
  2. ^ a b "London Air Terminal Built In Under Five Months". The Times. 27 September 1957. p. 13.
  3. ^ "New Air Terminal Ready In The Autumn". The Times. 13 March 1957. p. 7.
  4. ^ a b c d Hobhouse, Hermione, ed. (1986). Survey of London: Kensington Square To Earl's Court. 42. London County Council. ISBN 0485482428.
  5. ^ "Explore our past: 1950 – 1959". British Airways. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Air Terminal Moves West". The Times. 7 October 1957. p. 5.
  7. ^ Hibbert, Christopher; Weinreb, Ben; Keay, John; Keay, Julia (9 May 2011). The London Encyclopaedia (3rd Edition). Pan Macmillan. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-230-73878-2.
  8. ^ a b "New Air Terminal Can Handle 4,500,000 Passengers". The Times. 6 November 1963. p. 18.
  9. ^ "An Individual, Or "Seat Miles"?". The Times. 7 November 1963. p. 6.
  10. ^ a b "London Air Terminal Damaged by Fire". The Glasgow Herald. 7 December 1963. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Explore our past: 1960 – 1969". British Airways. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Checking out of terminal". The Glasgow Herald. 12 May 1972. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  13. ^ Reed, Arthur (12 May 1972). "BEA to end check-in at West London terminal". The Times. p. 4.
  14. ^ Woodley, Charles (2006). The History of British European Airways. Casemate Publishers. p. 167. ISBN 9781844151868.
  15. ^ Chambers, Kate (November 2013). "Time Travel: Town Flyer, 1956". Archived from the original on 21 April 2014.
  16. ^ Calder, Simon (14 September 2003). "Britain's biggest airline cuts link to Heathrow". Independent.
  17. ^ German, Clifford (21 August 1997). "Regalian to redevelop old air terminal". The Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Untitled". Investors Chronicle. 121: 12.
  19. ^ Middleton, Christopher (25 February 2006). "A good night at the office?". The Daily Telegraph.
  20. ^ "Eight injured as bomb explodes in air terminal". The Glasgow Herald. 29 September 1973. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  21. ^ "London air terminal hit by terror bomb". The Montreal Gazette. 29 September 1973. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Bomb injures eight at air terminal". The Times. 29 September 1973. p. 1.

Coordinates: 51°29′43″N 0°11′14″W / 51.4952°N 0.1873°W / 51.4952; -0.1873