London Southend Airport: A journey through time!
Rated as London’s best airport for four consecutive years by Which? readers, this small airfield is actually loaded with a lifetime of history.
Let’s reverse back in time to the beginning when Southend Airport was in fact considered a possible landing ground after its creation in World War One. The first flight in 1915 saw Sub Lieutenant A.W. Robinson fly a Bleriot Plane in an unsuccessful attempt to intercept a German Army Zeppelin.
A few decades later, in 1933, the Airport was purchased by Southend Council and opened as a municipal airport in 1935. It also featured in Second World War propaganda film: The Lion has Wings (1939).
However, the outburst of World War Two meant the Air Ministry requested it back and all civilian flights were halted. Actually, a number of the 50 pillboxes, designed to form an interlocking line of defence in the trench system, still remain on the site today.
Entering commercial space
In the mid-1950s two brand new runways were laid, thus allowing room for commercial flights and deliveries as well as British Air Ferries supplying cross-channel services. The ’60s looked a successful year for Southend Airport with a record-breaking 692,686 passengers using the airport as well as its iconic appearance in the 1964 James Bond film: Goldfinger.
Fast-forward thirty years to 1993, Southend Airport had experienced profit loses for some time, edging the Council further towards the decision to sell the site to Regional Airports Ltd. This period, however, saw the largest aircraft ever to land at the airport: it was the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, in 1998.
Shortly after the purchase, Regional Airports Ltd sold the airfield to the Stobart Group on 2nd of December 2008, for £21 million. Around this time, the airport again featured in another film, The Queen (2006), which starred the famous actress Helen Mirren, who also grew up in the area.
A brand new on-site hotel, Holiday Inn Southend, was opened in October 2012, boasting 129 rooms, 14 executive rooms, six suites and a rooftop restaurant & bar with spectacular airport views.
So, what does the airport look like today?
Stobart Group took a £100 million loan, in 2011; to fund construction plans for the airport, including the replacement of the air traffic control tower. In addition, EasyJet & Ryanair’s agreement means Stobart Group run around seventy scheduled flights per week to various European destinations.
So! All in all: a small, convenient airfield, overflowing with history through the ages.
Did you know London Southend Airport...
Is ranked the best London Airport by Which?
Is also home to the Vulcan Restoration Trust.
94% of staff live in Southend postcodes.
Is home to the AirPaws Crew - therapy dogs known to reduce anxiety among nervous fliers.