Concord Close, UB5

Place Name

An anglicised spelling of Concorde, the name and original spelling of the Anglo-French passenger aircraft, the world’s first supersonic transport to have been operated commercially. It means agreement, harmony or union. After a perceived slight by Charles de Gaulle, Harold Macmillan officially changed the name to Concord. At the French roll-out in Toulouse in late 1967, the Government Minister of Technology, Tony Benn, announced that he would change the spelling back to Concorde. Writing in The Guardian he explained: “The original plan was that both the French and English Concordes would be spelled thus, with an “e”. But Macmillan had been insulted by De Gaulle on one visit; De Gaulle had said he had a cold and couldn’t see him. So Macmillan came back and removed the ‘e’ from the end. When I went to Toulouse for the [French] roll-out in 1969, I decided to put it back again. We had to have the same name for the same aircraft, and besides, it was reversing an insult to the French, which I wasn’t in favour of. I didn’t tell anybody I was planning to do it, but once I had announced it in Toulouse, they couldn’t do anything about it. I said: ‘E stands for excellence, for England, for Europe and for the entente cordiale.’ I might have added ‘E stands for escalation,’ because, of course, it was very expensive, but I didn’t say that at the time.” This road and others in the vicinity are named after aviators and aircraft in a nod to the nearby RAF Northholt. In fact the airfield predates the establishment of the Royal Air Force by almost three years, having opened as an aerodrome in May 1915, making it the oldest RAF base. Originally established for the Royal Flying Corps, it has the longest history of continuous use of any RAF airfield. The station played a key role during the Battle of Britain, when fighters from several of its units, including No 303 Polish Fighter Squadron, engaged enemy aircraft as part of the defence of London.

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