This film is part of Free

A Visit to Heathrow Airport

At a time when flying still had a touch of glamour, Heathrow's Queens Building could provide the perfect venue for a pleasant afternoon's plane spotting

Amateur film 1961 5 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


John P Mitchell's film captures the time when a trip to the airport to see the planes was a popular family pastime. We start outside Heathrow Airport's Queens Building, since demolished, before moving up to the viewing terraces. From here we see a wide variety of airliners arriving and departing from all over the world; from turbo-props to long-range jets. The film ends with a drive on roads and dual-carriageways around Brighton and Hove - in a Triumph Herald.

Designed by Frederick Gibberd and opened in 1955 by Her Majesty the Queen, the Queens Building housed London Airport's administrative offices as well as airline offices and a conference and business centre. It also included a roof garden and a number of viewing terraces, which became very popular with visitors as well as growing numbers of plane-spotters. A year after it was opened, the viewing terraces and roof garden made the Queens Building one of the most visited attractions in London. In 2009 the building was demolished to make way for the redevelopment of Heathrow's Terminal 2.