Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Design, London, Things I Like... > The Kensington Air Terminal…

The Kensington Air Terminal…

 

My And is currently reading a Miss Marple novel, one of the last ones that Agatha Christie wrote I think. Entitled At Bertram’s Hotel, it was published in the mid 1960’s and tells the tale of the now elderly (was she ever anything else…) detective’s stay in a swish London hotel, and the usual fatalities that seem to follow the redoubtable detective like a bad smell…

wlat-k65-108-aerial-view-1965I digress. The reason for this post is that in the story, reference is made to The Kensington Air Terminal… Intrigued, And went off to the internet to investigate and sure enough such a thing actually existed, moreover, it would seem that it is now almost totally forgotten..

Situated overlooking the Cromwell Road, on the site of what has been a Sainsbury’s since the 1980’s, and almost equidistant between The Albert Hall and Earls Court, was a group of buildings that together formed a direct link between Heathrow Airport and the city.

Before the rail link was completed in 1977, getting to Heathrow could be a time consuming business by all accounts. BEA (British European Airways) hit upon the idea of creating a central hub where travelers could check in and relax before being transported along with their baggage by luxury coaches to the airport proper, making good use of the recently opened M4 motorway.

wlat-k61-475-first-terminal-showing-cromwell-curve

 

wlat-first-terminal-1957-k61-476

Cut away illustration of temporary terminal from The Illustrated London News

The first temporary two storey building (above) was completed in 1957 and proved so successful that a more permanent solution was soon being planned. Designed by Burnett, Tait & Partners, this new facility included additional parking (via some impressive circular access ramps) restaurants and retail opportunities, airport style waiting areas and departure gates, along with a residential tower above. It was finally opened in the early/ mid 1960’s to great fanfare and excitement…

wlat-k64-8-interior

wlat-k64-10-interior

wlat-k64-9-interior-resturant

Sadly due to increasing security regulations, land prices and airline takeovers, the building was only in operation for around 15 years or so before being redeveloped by Sainsbury’s.

There is very little online about this intriguing building. The excellent post at The Library Time Machine by Dave Walker is where I found all of the images and much of the info.

wlat-k64-183-west-entrance

wlat-vehicle-entrance

How the building (now known as Point West) Looks today

How the building (now known as Point West) Looks today

 

  1. Bridget Rees
    March 18, 2015 at 18:05

    I did TRY to comment but the dratted thing wouldn’t give me the OK. I wanted to tell you I WENT there and it was wonderfully funny – it was the days when everyone dressed up a bit to travel, and “special”surroundings brought out the “refeened” twitch in all of them, – extra-posh voice to nag your husband, extra- strained posture to drink your tea, extra-cowed behaviour towards anything wearing an official hat and shiny buttons!

    Think Claridges meets Costa and you’ll get the idea. It was lovely, everyone trying so hard and being so happy – flying was still a bit of an adventure then. Ah, the innocent pleasures of the beginnings of things.

    I do so enjoy yur blogs – you often cover my lost youth (80 next week, so nearly everything is part of my lost “youth”). Yours, Bridget Rees.

    • March 19, 2015 at 16:51

      Hi Bridget
      I like your descriptions of affected poshness and your phrase “the innocent pleasure in the beginnings of things”.. very poetic.
      I’m pleased you like the blog. My new(ish job means I don’t have as much time to write as over the last year or so and my target of 8 posts a month seems harder and harder to hit. However with comments as excellent as yours, I’m spurred on to do more.
      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment and happy birthday for next week.
      regards
      Joe

  2. Tim
    March 19, 2015 at 11:37

    I do vaguely remember this!

  3. Brian Beckett
    December 15, 2015 at 14:05

    I think the terminal referred to in the Miss Marple novel was BEA’s first
    one, located at Stratford Court, Kensington High Street.

  1. October 31, 2015 at 15:54

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: