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How Croydon Airport became a victim of its own success

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IN the concluding part of our look at Croydon Airport's history, Bunmi Adigun explains how the capital's leading airfield became a victim of its heyday success CROYDON Airport may have survived the German bombs but it faced a new threat in peacetime.

The end of the war brought with it advancement in aviation technology. New radar systems were being introduced to commercial airports and newer, more developed hubs, were appearing in London.

Although once the capital's biggest, the airbase never truly returned to its 1920s and 30s heyday, failing to keep up with the likes of Heathrow.

And as commercial flights returned, it was starting to struggle to house the influx of bigger and newer planes to its airfields.

Jet planes were bigger than the propeller powered planes of the pre-war years, which the airport was initially built for and so pushed the airport's hangers to capacity.

It was estimated at the time that the airport was working at 90 per cent of its pre-war intensity; however, it was still struggling to provide an adequate service. Damage from bombing to some of the hangars also made it harder for the airport to accommodate bigger planes.

Structural damage was not the only thing preventing Croydon Airport from progressing in the post-war years.

Residents, who had returned to their homes after they were being used by military personnel, were now struggling to get used to the noise of planes coming to and from the airport. Councillors were inundated with complaints about the airport.

The following decade witnessed the modernisation of nearby airports. Gatwick underwent redevelopment at a cost of £7 million while Croydon Airport's airfield was still grass rather than tarmac. Croydon was still in high demand among smaller airline companies, but the decrease in commercial fights was the beginning of the end.

The complaints of residents and demand for more housing hastened the eventual closure of the airport. The last international commercial service was to Rotterdam on September 30, 1959.

Do you have memories of Croydon past you'd like to share? E-mail newsdesk@croydonadvertiser.co.uk or call us on 01737 783822.

How Croydon Airport became a victim of its own success


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