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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Heathrow the Hamlet
The hamlet formerly known as Heath Row, is now something larger.
Location: Croydon Road, Hillingdon
Description: Heathrow (or in the olden days it was called La Hetherewe) was once a tiny hamlet, an isolated row of mere cottages. This was on the North Western edge of the historic highwaymen's lair of Hounslow Heath, and roughly where Terminal 3 is today.
In 1925 RAF officer Norman MacMillan made a forced landing and take-off on a piece of very flat and open land. He noted the flatness of the land and its suitability for an airfield.
Norman became chief test pilot for Fairey Aviation who had been kicked out of nearby Northolt in 1928. He recommended the suitability of the area for an aerodrome and flew aerial surveys of the site.
Fairey Aviation then started buying 148 acres (60 hectares) of farmland in four adjoining plots near southeast of the hamlet of Heathrow from four local landowners, for about 1500, at the typical 1929 market rate of 10 per acre.
In June 1930 the airfield was opened and called Harmondsworth Aerodrome, The Great West Aerodrome, and later the Heathrow Aerodrome.
After the war on 31 May 1946 the newly-named London Airport was officially opened for commercial operations.