Aerodrome was an aerodrome in London, England, that was an
important centre for aviation from 1908 to 1968.
It was situated in Colindale, seven miles (11.3 km) north west of
Charing Cross. It nearly became "the
Charing Cross of the UK's
international air routes", but for the actions of the RAF after the
First World War. It was known as a place of pioneering experiments
including the first airmail, the first parachute descent from a
powered aircraft, the first night flights, and the first aerial
defence of a city.
3 Manufacturing at Hendon
4 The end of aviation at Hendon
5 Hendon today
7 External links
Henry Coxwell and
James Glaisher were the first to fly from Hendon in
a balloon called the Mammoth in 1862; and ballooning at the Brent
Reservoir was a very popular spectacle for the crowds gathered on bank
holidays late in the 19th century. The first powered flight from
Hendon was in an 88-foot (27 m) long non-rigid airship built by
Spencer Brothers of Highbury. It took off from the Welsh Harp
Reservoir in 1909, piloted by Henry Spencer, and the only passenger
was Muriel Matters, the Australian suffragette. The first attempt at
heavier-than-air flight was by H.P. Martin and G.H. Handasyde, again
at the Welsh Harp. They constructed a monoplane with four engines in
the ballroom of the hotel[clarification needed], but were never able
to get airborne.
Inspired by Louis Blériot’s flight across the Channel, Everett,
Edgecumbe and Co began to experiment with an aircraft to be built at
their works at
Colindale near Hendon, erecting a small hangar to house
it. From 1908 to 1910, their "Grasshopper", as the plane was called,
taxied about and left the ground briefly, but failed to get truly
airborne, although these attempts attracting quite a crowd.
In 1906, before any powered flight had taken place in Britain, the
Daily Mail newspaper had challenged aviators to fly from
Manchester or vice versa, offering a prize of £10,000. The journey
had to be completed within twenty-four hours, with no more than two
landings. Aircraft and engine design had improved sufficiently by
1910 to make an attempt to win the prize realistic, and both Claude
Grahame-White and the French aviator
Louis Paulhan prepared for the
challenge during April 1910.
Grahame-White made two attempts, but it
was Paulhan who succeeded. He chose a field on the future aerodrome
site as his point of departure. On 27 April he flew 117 miles
(188 km) from Hendon to Lichfield, easily the longest flight
accomplished in the UK at that time. Before dawn on 28 April he took
off and reached
Burnage on the outskirts of Manchester after three
hours 55 minutes in the air, during a period of just over twelve
hours. This was the first true flight from the Hendon site.
George Beatty (far right) and colleague with six student pilots
destined for the Royal Flying Corps, photographed at Hendon in August
Poster for RAF Display, Hendon, 1925, published in Flight Magazine, 2
Grahame-White created a new company, the
Company, taking control of more than 200 acres (0.81 km2) of
Colindale and converting it into what could be recognised as a proper
modern airfield. The first occupants were Horatio Barber's
Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd and the Bleriot flying school. From 9 to
16 September 1911, the first official UK airmail was flown between
Hendon and Windsor as part of the celebrations of the coronation of
King George V.
In 1912, the first
Aerial Derby started and ended at Hendon. An
estimated three million people turned out across London, forming a
human ring around the race circuit to see the aviators fly round the
metropolis. An estimated two million of these Londoners had never seen
an aircraft in flight before. At Hendon
Aerodrome at least 45,000
people paid for admission to the enclosures.
These annual events became as important as the Ascot and Epsom races
London Season. By 1925, 100,000 people were coming to see
the display, and it was so popular that there was talk of having to
spread it over a few days. The first fatality at Hendon, reported
The Times in May 1911, was Bernard Benson (aged 23). On 25 May 1911
he fell 100 feet (30 m) from an ASL Valkyrie.
A number of flying schools were located at Hendon, including
Grahame-White's, and another established in 1914 by the American
aviator George Beatty, in partnership with
Handley Page Ltd.
In November 1916, the War Office commandeered the flying schools,
after which the aerodrome trained 490 pilots. Claude
other members of the
Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) mounted a night
London in 1915, constituting the very first aerial defence
After World War I, the first RAF "Pageant" was held at Hendon in 1922,
and it soon became a regular event, known from 1925 as the Royal Air
Force Display, and in 1938 as the Empire Air Day.
Aerodrome was briefly active during the Battle of Britain, but for
most of World War II, the
Aerodrome was mainly used for transport
activities, and flying dignitaries to and from London.
RAF Hendon had three crossed runways with magnetic headings of:
QDM 339 - 3975 x 150 feet QDM 280 - 3000 x 150 feet QDM 014 - 3060 x
150 feet[clarification needed]
These runways were removed by 1969.
Manufacturing at Hendon
Production of aeroplanes was one of the features of the aerodrome's
activities under Grahame-White. During the
First World War
First World War production
increased rapidly. To facilitate the transportation of the 3,500
workers and materials, The
Midland Railway built a spur from the
embanked main line with a platform close to the main line and a loop
around the airfield to the plant. It had been Claude Grahame-White’s
conviction that Hendon would become "the
Charing Cross of our
international air routes", but the
Air Ministry took over in 1922,
which led to a protracted and ugly legal action lasting until 1925,
Grahame-White left the site.
The end of aviation at Hendon
The use of Hendon as an airfield was under threat even before the war,
since it was considered that RAF Hendon would become a target for
enemy bombing raids. After the war the airfield was increasingly
unsuitable, particularly because the runways were too short, and the
proximity of residential areas made matters worse. The RAF argued the
military importance of the complex into the 1950s in case future
developments in aviation technology might render the base suitable
again, but eventually Hendon Borough Council and the
Council were able to argue that houses were needed more than the
aerodrome. The last flying unit, the Metropolitan Communication
Squadron, left Hendon in November 1957.
The entrance to the aerodrome can be seen in "the parade" scene in the
1967 film The Dirty Dozen, with at one point a Kirby Cadet glider of
the then-resident 617 Volunteer Gliding School of the Air Training
Corps launching in the background. Late in 1968, when two of the three
runways had been removed, a
Blackburn Beverley was flown in to be an
exhibit at the new RAF Museum: this was the last aircraft to land in
Hendon. The RAF station finally closed in 1987.
The site of the aerodrome is now occupied by the
Grahame Park housing
Hendon Police College
Hendon Police College and the
RAF Museum which is situated on
the southeast side of the site.
The 2008 Hendon Pageant
Today, Hendon houses the
London branch of the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force Museum
which portrays the role of the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force in the development of
aviation and avionics in the United Kingdom. The museum consists of
several buildings containing a range of permanent exhibitions
including "Our Finest Hour" in the Battle Of Britain Hall which was
designed, produced and installed by specialist theme park and museum
designers Sarner Ltd, the award-winning "Milestones of Flight"
which details the major developments in flight technology from 1903 to
2003, two buildings containing various aircraft and helicopters, and
part of the
Grahame-White Factory, which contains many examples of
original aircraft from World War One and the early days of aviation.
Admission to the museum is free; there is however a car parking fee.
The museum runs a programme of free events throughout the year
suitable for children and young adults as well as a 3D cinema, located
in "Milestones of Flight", plus exploration Gallery "Aeronauts
^ Scholefield 2004, p. 210
^ Scholefield 2004, p. 211
^ Opening of the Bleriot School
Flight magazine 8 October 1910 p. 818
^ Baldwin 1960, p. 5
^ The Aerial Derby
Flight magazine 15 June 1912 p530
^ "aerial derby london aerodrome grahame-white aviation 1912
0531 Flight Archive". www.flightglobal.com. Retrieved
^ "olympia 1925 0404 Flight Archive". www.flightglobal.com.
^ "air battalion jullerot daily mail 1911 0485 Flight
Archive". www.flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
^ "capt aero club royal aero 1912 0308 Flight Archive".
www.flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
^ "George W. Beatty". Earlyaviators.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
^ Igoe, Kate. George W. Beatty Collection, National Air and Space
Museum, 1997. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
^ "pdf archive royal alfe flight pdf 1925 0403 Flight
Archive". www.flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
^ "R.A.F. Display At Hendon". www.britishpathe.com. Retrieved
Empire Air Day Displays At Hendon". www.britishpathe.com. Retrieved
^ Sturtivant 1997, p. 223
^ "home2 - Sarner". Sarner. Archived from the original on 15 November
2012. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
Baldwin, N.C. (1960), Fifty Years of British Air Mails, Francis
Scholefield, R.A. (2004), Manchester's Early Airfields, an extended
chapter in Moving Manchester, Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian
Society, ISSN 0950-4699
Sturtivant, Ray (1997),
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force Flying Training and Support
Units, Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, ISBN 0-85130-252-1
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hendon Aerodrome.
Detailed historical record about Hendon Aerodrome
Defunct airports and airfields in the United Kingdom
Great West Aerodrome
London Air Park