Post war plans and the abandonment of the City of London Airport at Fairlop

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 September 2017

A short Central Line train between Fairlop and Barkingside in April 1955. Note the tank traps and allotments, beyond is the old airfield, eventually to become Fairlop Waters Country Park. Credit: Alan A Jackson

A short Central Line train between Fairlop and Barkingside in April 1955. Note the tank traps and allotments, beyond is the old airfield, eventually to become Fairlop Waters Country Park. Credit: Alan A Jackson


Towards the end of the Second World War, the government began to look at the requirements for civil Airports.

RAF Station Fairlop featured in these deliberations, and it became clear that developments in aircraft design and technology had increased so rapidly during the war, that new civil airports would have to be considerably larger than had been previously estimated.

It was decided that any future airport at Fairlop would not require access from a railway, as road access was now intended via a new road from Eastern Avenue to the south.

The hypothetical airport’s runway design would be laid out in the form of a capital letter ‘A’, with terminal buildings sited in the centre.

Before the war the airport scheme was being developed by the City Corporation, but now fell under the control of the Ministry of Aviation.

It was contemplated that Fairlop would be used both as overflow and emergency relief for the continually expanding Heathrow airport.

In 1952, the government announced that it had completed a review of aerodromes required to serve the London area.

The review had come to the conclusion that it was unlikely to be a requirement for the use of Fairlop.

Shortly after it published a White Paper.

It proposed Gatwick as the second London Airport and Fairlop was declared unsuitable for use as a civil airport.

In 1955, Ilford Borough Council purchased much of Fairlop Plain and soon after sand and gravel extraction began there.

During this time the former RAF site was used for a variety of leisure activities before its buildings were demolished and runways broken up.

Sand and gravel extraction continues to this day, but the worked out diggings on the site planned for Fairlop Airport and its new station have been in-filled and landscaped to form what is now Fairlop Waters Country Park and golf course.


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