Central London Air Terminal (British Caledonian) at London Victoria

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StephenHunter

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Watching an old video from c.1985 of London Victoria and I saw this. This isn't the same building as the now National Audit Office, is it?
 
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busesrusuk

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Watching an old video from c.1985 of London Victoria and I saw this. This isn't the same building as the now National Audit Office, is it?
Can you link to the video? The NAO building was the BOAC London terminal and subsequently used by British Airways. Presumably for long haul as the West London terminal (originally BEA) dealt with the European routes.

The only other office I recall at Victoria was directly outside of Victoria Station - if you looked at the train station from the bus station there was a Laker Skytrain ticketing centre on the right hand side just before Buckingham Palace Road. The office/shop is just visible behind this image of the Red Arrow bus:

LT MBA536 | Victoria Bus Stn | keith wood | Flickr

I don't recall a British Caledonian "terminal". There was a British Airways shop in Victoria Place in the 1980's - its possible that was originally a BCal office/shop where you could check in before boarding the train.

However, if you can link the video, it may help with the location.
 

busesrusuk

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Thanks, interesting video and shows just how much Victoria has changed and how dingy the platforms have become. I don't recall the BCal office at all - it was clearly quite a large place and in a prime position on the station concourse.

Its definitely not the NAO building as that is opposite Victoria Coach station and not part of the main train station.
 

Taunton

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Two different places.

The building now the NAO was built in the 1930s as the old Imperial Airways departure point and head office, later the same for the old BOAC airline, and ultimately British Airways. Coaches went from there to Heathrow (pre-war they had gone to the old Croydon airfield), it had full check-in etc. It's a good 10 minutes walk down the road from Victoria station, it faces the coach station over the road. When British Airways gave it up the coach area became an overflow for the coach station, then eventually it became, after a very substantial refit, the NAO. It's classic 1930s architecture made it a listed building.

In Victoria station was the terminal built probably about 1960 by British United Airways, later British Caledonian, built at an upper level on the Brighton side. They used Gatwick, not Heathrow, and were a principal user of the rail service there from underneath their terminal. This likewise had the baggage check-in, etc, after which you just went down to the train. Gatwick airport opened in 1958 and the train from Victoria was seen as a key selling point. It looked rather a cheap bit of architecture on stilts, but was improved over time.

Various other airlines, such as the Laker Skytrain ticket office, came and went in the vicinity over time.
 

edwin_m

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Two different places.

The building now the NAO was built in the 1930s as the old Imperial Airways departure point and head office, later the same for the old BOAC airline, and ultimately British Airways. Coaches went from there to Heathrow (pre-war they had gone to the old Croydon airfield), it had full check-in etc. It's a good 10 minutes walk down the road from Victoria station, it faces the coach station over the road. When British Airways gave it up the coach area became an overflow for the coach station, then eventually it became, after a very substantial refit, the NAO. It's classic 1930s architecture made it a listed building.

In Victoria station was the terminal built probably about 1960 by British United Airways, later British Caledonian, built at an upper level on the Brighton side. They used Gatwick, not Heathrow, and were a principal user of the rail service there from underneath their terminal. This likewise had the baggage check-in, etc, after which you just went down to the train. Gatwick airport opened in 1958 and the train from Victoria was seen as a key selling point. It looked rather a cheap bit of architecture on stilts, but was improved over time.

Various other airlines, such as the Laker Skytrain ticket office, came and went in the vicinity over time.
I can remember using this for my first ever flight, from Gatwick to Ibiza around 1973. As my age was in single figures at the time I don't recall too much but I do remember descending from the high level building to a platform and an extremely antediluvian unit. I seem to recall we had to get in the right portion as the train divided en route.
 

Journeyman

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I can remember using this for my first ever flight, from Gatwick to Ibiza around 1973. As my age was in single figures at the time I don't recall too much but I do remember descending from the high level building to a platform and an extremely antediluvian unit. I seem to recall we had to get in the right portion as the train divided en route.
Could it possibly have been a year or two earlier than 1973? Sounds like the old 2-HAL units that ran at the back of Bognor/Littlehampton trains and dropped a unit at Gatwick. Later 2-HALs with large luggage vans were used. They'd gone by 1971, though.
 

edwin_m

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Could it possibly have been a year or two earlier than 1973? Sounds like the old 2-HAL units that ran at the back of Bognor/Littlehampton trains and dropped a unit at Gatwick. Later 2-HALs with large luggage vans were used. They'd gone by 1971, though.
On counting back our holidays year by year I think it was actually 1972, but pretty sure not 1971. I remember being very worried that the plane had 3+2 seating that it might overturn, although I never had this concern on trains. On checking now this suggests a BAC111-500 series, but they were in service with BCal throughout the period in question.
 

Taunton

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Well it could have been the replacement 4-VEP, for someone unused to Southern-style outer suburban stock. The 2-HAL had indeed been withdrawn in 1971. The ones which had been used to Gatwick were the seven post-war replacement units that looked like a steel 4-SUB, quite different to the rest, with the adapted luggage provision. There was much guidance to get into the rear unit for Gatwick, but as the detachment was at Gatwick itself it really didn't matter, but just prevented unfamiliar air passengers from holding things up, as the rest of the train went on to Horsham etc in a minute or so.
 

edwin_m

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Well it could have been the replacement 4-VEP, for someone unused to Southern-style outer suburban stock. The 2-HAL had indeed been withdrawn in 1971. The ones which had been used to Gatwick were the seven post-war replacement units that looked like a steel 4-SUB, quite different to the rest, with the adapted luggage provision. There was much guidance to get into the rear unit for Gatwick, but as the detachment was at Gatwick itself it really didn't matter, but just prevented unfamiliar air passengers from holding things up, as the rest of the train went on to Horsham etc in a minute or so.
I see the 4-VEG units that pre-dated the Gatwick Express push-pulls weren't converted until 1978, when they still split at Gatwick, so I assume standard 4-VEPs did the same thing in the intervening period. I would probably have thought a 4-VEP pretty primitive for having doors at every seating bay, even though I was well used to the dubious pleasures of class 104 and similar around Manchester. I think it was overall blue, which I gather was their original livery.
 

Journeyman

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I see the 4-VEG units that pre-dated the Gatwick Express push-pulls weren't converted until 1978, when they still split at Gatwick, so I assume standard 4-VEPs did the same thing in the intervening period. I would probably have thought a 4-VEP pretty primitive for having doors at every seating bay, even though I was well used to the dubious pleasures of class 104 and similar around Manchester. I think it was overall blue, which I gather was their original livery.
Sounds likely, then. A large batch of blue VEPs was delivered in 68/69 to see off the 4-LAVs on Brighton stoppers.
 

Taunton

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The standard 4-VEP used in the mid-1970s had the usual large guards' van, but most passengers took their luggage with them in the saloons. This coincided, alas, with the popularity in Spanish resorts of bizarrely large straw model donkeys, about 3 feet in length and almost as high, which were extensively brought home to be received by reluctant children, and which caused considerable handling difficulties for the holiday charter airlines like the one described - but they dutifully delivered them all at Gatwick. I remember being in a Brighton service which stopped at Gatwick, and an older couple boarded with one of these, plus their own two suitcases, which completely took up the floorspace in the seating bay between them. When we stopped at East Croydon it was on the platform side, and looked out through the window to the considerable amusement of those on the platform. Last seen being negotiated down the steps to Victoria Underground.
 
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