Croydon: London’s ‘first’ hub airport you’ve never heard of

It wasn’t Britain’s first aerial gateway, but Croydon Airport rapidly became the nation’s hub and one of the world’s most important airports. We  chart the history of London’s first true hub airport in this six-part opener – featuring rare archive images.

Croydon Airport, 12 miles south of central London, was created on March 29, 1920, by the combining of two existing and neighbouring airfields, Beddington Aerodrome and Waddon Aerodrome, lying to the west and east respectively of the north-south Plough Lane.

An aerial view of the fledgling airfield taken in 1925
An aerial view of the fledgling airfield taken in 1925 Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Beddington Aerodrome was originally a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) airfield, established in December 1915, one of several forming a defensive ring around the capital during World War One. The first Croydon-based aircraft, two B.E.2cs, arrived the following month and aircraft stationed here intercepted raids by German aircraft and Zeppelins in 1916 and 1917.

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