Brabazon Avenue, SM6

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The Bristol Brabazon was the largest aircraft ever built by Britain designed to be the liner of the skies, poaching wealthy passengers away from Transatlantic shipping. Indeed, it was meant to be a world class aircraft showing off the pride of post-war British engineering. However after millions of pounds were spent in development test flights failed to impress potential buyers and none were ordered and the project closed down. The plane was named after Lieutenant-Colonel John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon (February 8, 1884 – May 17, 1964) who was a pioneer of aviation being the first Englishman to pilot a heavier-than-air machine under power in England. As a Conservative MP he went on to serve as Minister of Transport and Minister of Aircraft Production during World War II. He took his first solo flight in November 1908 in France in a Voisin biplane and five months later, on May 2, 1909 at Shellbeach on the Isle of Sheppey made the first officially recognised aeroplane flight in England. On March 8, 1910, he became the first person to qualify as a pilot in the United Kingdom and was awarded Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate number 1. During the First World War he served on the Western Front where he played a key role in the development of aerial photography and reconnaissance. As a politician however he was a failure, like many, he was strongly opposed to war with Nazi Germany and in early 1939, when war seemed imminent, made contact with the fascist Oswald Mosley in an attempt to coordinate activity against the war. Despite this he was made Minister of Aircraft Production, a short-lived post. since a year after taking it he had to resign for expressing the hope that Germany and the Soviet Union, then engaged in the Battle of Stalingrad, would destroy each other. The Soviet Union was an ally. This road was laid out on the former Croydon Airport which was opened in 1920. Before that the land was New Barn Farm. It was developed as Britain’s main airport, handling more cargo, mail, and passengers than any other UK airport at the time. The airport’s origins lay in the First World War when in December 1915, Beddington Aerodrome was established. It was to be one of a number of small airfields around the capital for protection against Zeppelin airship raids. In 1918 Waddon Aerodrome was opened nearby, separated by Plough Lane, as part of the adjoining National Aircraft Factory No 1, to serve aircraft test flights. The two aerodromes were combined following the end of the First World War to become Croydon Aerodrome, the gateway for all international flights to and from London. Expansion continued until the Second World War, when civilian flights were suspended and it was used as a fighter station during the Battle of Britain. Postwar, the airport could no longer grow as urban spread had restricted further development, it closed for good on September 30, 1959.

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