The Sheriffs Office is based in Airport House, the former terminal building of London’s – and the UK’s – first international airport.
Croydon Aerodrome, later Croydon Airport, opened its doors for civil aviation services on March 29th 1920. The first planes were converted WWI bombers made of wood and canvas, with an open cockpit for the pilot.
Many famous people have been associated with Croydon Airport:
- Winston Churchill, George VI and Edward VIII all had flying lessons there
- Amy Johnson set off from Croydon for her flight to Australia
- Charles Lindbergh arrived in the Spirit of St. Louis after completing his trans-Atlantic flight
- G J H “Jimmy” Jeffs, Croydon Civilian Air Traffic Officer, was one of the great innovators in air traffic control, and was issued with Air Traffic Control Licence No.1 in 1922
- Fred Mockford, Croydon’s senior radio officer, coined the distress phrase “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” in 1923
During WWII the commercial airlines gave way to the RAF, and the airport became RAF Croydon and was badly bombed in 1940. After the war, Croydon Airport returned to civilian use, but did not have enough capacity to expand to meet growing demand. Heathrow became London’s international airport and Croydon a regional airport, remaining in service until 30th September 1959.
Airport House is a beautiful Art Deco building, a fascinating part of history.