EGLL Heathrow ATC

These photos from 1945-47 from Brian Davidson


Starlight 2



LL0b “After WW2 the airfield was operated by the RAF for a few months., but Donald Bennett of Pathfinder fame had by this time founded British South American Airways (BSAA) and wanted to use Heathrow for international services. He got permission to land the first civil aircraft: G-AGWG Starlight, a Lancastrian-at the proposed airport on 6th December 1945. Heathrow was officially handed over to the Air Ministry on 01 Jan 1946, and BSAA claimed another first when the same Lancastrian took off for Lisbon on the same day on a proving flight to Buenos Aires. The photo shows the aircraft preparing for the inaugural flight from Heathrow.”  – photo legend!

(before the aviation history police fall on me, I checked G-AGWG  and every reference I found said it was called Star Dust not Starlight, so I played with the photo in Photoplus and yes the name on the nose in photo LL0a is Star Dust. Sadly Star Dust was lost on 2nd August 1947 when it crashed in the Andes. It was 1998 before any wreckage was found.- atchistory)

EGLL 1949 bd 6 20

LL0c Avro Tudor of presumably British South American Airways  showing the original tower in the background.  the original photo was dated 1949

Below, the original tower on the North side. photos dates from 1948 and is courtesy Malcolm Hemming


Barry Davidson has sent us several more picture of early Heathrow. Here are two more showing the original tower.


LL1a Hawker P1081 VX279

bd4 comet


I know Heathrow had a very early Federal GCA, one of about 18 that the ministry obtained from the USAAF. it may be at one of the other units though, more info would be welcome. Via Malcolm Hemming are these photos of the inside of a GCA/PAR truck




inbound radar pictureLL3

is this the tracker position in the Federal GCA?



Malcolm also sent me a link to a BBC archive about post 1945 ATC radar at London which also has some footage of the original tower. I’ll also put in the link on the SATCC post.

Early London Radar Services

Barry Davidson sent in some photos below showing the second tower under construction and newly complete.

GAGNG 1950

LL3b DAKOTA G-AGNG (no its not an aircraft carrier in the distance – its Heathrow Central under construction)




LL3d This is not what it seems! It is a mock up of the VCR for the movie Out of the Clouds but the personnel are real EGLL ATC staff.

Les Tranter has sent in a large collection of photos of Heathrow ATC from the early 1950s onwards. Some we also have below, others are new. I’ve combined all of Les’ collection into a nostalgic slide show….enjoy.

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LL3f  Celebrating the first  first jet prop service in 1953. The original tower just visible on the left.

EGLL 1963_2


bd4 early users

LL3g  some early users.

and some more from Barry Davidson from 1959-61

LL3h  Barry say the number of police bottom right suggests a Royal Flight

EGLL 1963_1


EGLL users 1959

LL3i and some 1959-61 users

EGLL tower views (1)LL4

EGLL tower views (2)LL5


below: Heathrow VCR circa 1955

EGLL VCR 1955 (1)LL7

EGLL VCR 1955 (2)LL8

Heathrow ATC July 1963

Control TWRLL8a

bd10 1955

LL8b 1955


Air controller runway 28 position and GMC controller, looking East. Barry Davidson thinks on the right is Margot Trickett later ATSA 4 at LATCC.

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (2)LL10

Air controller position Runway 10 position,  looking West, John Toseland on right



EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (3)LL11

ATCA’s desks with Strip Holder delivery on left. Barry Davidson and others confirmed this is being Margot Trickett later ATSA 4 at LATCC.

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (4)LL12

Detailed view of new airfield lighting control panel and ticker tape/control panel desk on right

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (5)LL13

Precision Approach Radar position (PAR or GCA)

LL GCA position cuttingLL13a

Picture of _ and Geoff Bullock in APC @ LAP(reduced)2LL13b

EGLL ApproachLL13c

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (6)LL14

Detailed view of ACR 6 console, No 2 director, position

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (7)LL15

Nos 1 and 2 Directors Radar position and low level ACR 6 display

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (8)LL16

General view of ATCA and Approach controller Mk III standard control desk units with part of supervisors desk on right

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (9)LL17

General view of complete approach radar room layout

below two later views dated June 1968

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (10)LL18

EGLL ATC JULY 1963 (11)LL19

Jean Sturrock ATSA 4 EGLL AIS Pinner & AIS Heathrow (Barry Davidson)

egll ADC Bill McCollLL20

Heathrow Tower, Bill McColl

egll tower adcLL21

Lighting Operator facing right is Mike Davies

Mystery tiles stored for years on the airfield. Believed to be part of the manoeuvring area surface. photo (and car) by Mike BloodworthLL22

photograph by Mike Bloodworth of concrete hatch covers that had once been installed on the main runway (s) at Heathrow, seen stacked around the SATCC building

Mike suggested that many years ago they were unable to withstand the rolling loads imposed by the big aircraft. The edges crumbled so they filled the pits with timber to support them. The result was that instead of sinking they compressed the wood and sprung out of their holes some landing on the runway. They took the covers away and filled the pits with concrete to keep the airfield open. Later they rebuilt the runways.

Further research by Mike suggests the problem dated from about 1955 when after each departure a runway inspection was carried out, and that problems with these hatch covers were at least part of the reason for the inspection

Lighting panelLL23

later lighting panelLL24

ground movement radarLL25


 fps boardsLL26


approach director radar consoleLL27

approach director radar console


EGLL App 1968-70

LL28 a        The picture in EGLL App is from the Careers Brochure – Alastair C Campbell

Number One SouthLL29

Kathy Barsh on South Director, Malcolm Hemming on South Approach

egll app 2LL30

the following 4 photos were a bit of a mystery until published in Readability 5. My thanks to Richard Dawson, Chris Huggett, Malcolm Hemming, Brendan McCartney, Dave West and Howard Thomas for the info below

EGLL ex_mystery (1)LL31

two photos above are and below are the old approach/approach radar room at Heathrow.

the positions right to left are. Names in bold everyone seem to agree on, option are in italics

South Approach Al Carter

South Director   Tony Watkins or Nick Crawford, majority for Tony Watkins

SVFR  Alistair McClean

No 2 Director  Pat Flynn or Tony Paitin-  the majority view is Pat Flynn

N Director George Dyer

North Approach Pete Bish.

(thanks to Pete Bish for clearing up some of the names, can anyone else solve the last two?)

More clarification is hoped for.

 EGLL ex_mystery (2)LL32

The  Assistant’s position with  Sharon Louden.

.EGLL ex_mystery (3)LL33

Heathrow Approach Radar simulator 1st Floor

EGLL ex_mystery (4)LL34

Heathrow Approach radar simulator ACP positions. Dave West is nearest the camera then Eric Percival then Kay Lawrence.   Eric Percival was involved in the training section and was also a very good airport lighting operator.

Air controller consoleLL35

Air controller console

Heathrow geography over the years as shown by maps, SMR screen shots and aerial photographs



egll aerial view 3LL38

EGLL aerial photoLL39

EGLL aerial photo 2LL40

Scan_20150828 (4)LL41

Scan_20150828 (3)LL42


LL SMR with BAW1 – John Faulkner  (BAW1 along with Speedbird (BAW) 2, 3 and 4 then used by Concorde)

Before UK controllers had to attend approved courses it was possible to obtain the ATCO licence and it ratings by home study it was difficult to practice for the approach and approach ratings. This approach to study was confined to those non NATCS/NATS controllers around the UK. Initially there had been series of Field Training Units established in NATCS control towers to augment the simulation facility at the civil School of Air Traffic Control at Hurn and any spare capacity at the FTUs could be hired by other controllers or their employers to assist with their studies. As NATS units gained their own simulators and the now College of Air Traffic Control expanded its simulation capacity the FTUs became redundant to NATS and they closed. To provide simulation facilities for practice by non-NATS controllers and for their examination (?) a simulator was provided in the Heathrow Control Tower Building in rooms 108,109,110. The six colour photos below feature this simulator.

EGLL nonNATS simulators (1)LL43

approach procedural simulator

EGLL nonNATS simulators (2)LL44

ACP (Pseudo pilot) radar simulator input

EGLL nonNATS simulators (3)LL45

EGLL nonNATS simulators (4)LL46

EGLL nonNATS simulators (5)LL47

EGLL nonNATS simulators (6)LL48

egll smr fitting june 1989 (1)LL49

egll smr fitting june 1989 (2)LL50

egll smr fitting june 1989 (3)LL51

egll smr fitting june 1989 (4)LL52

egll adc positionLL53

Scan_20150828 (5)LL54

Bob Neville on the desk,  Paddy Treacy (identified by Dave Richards) on the lights, Chris Huggett on easterly Air Arrivals and Nick Wright on Air Deps. Chris added extra info “E watch duty with Nick doing a day shift from A Watch. Date Circa 1985”

Scan_20150828 (7)LL55

Scan_20150828 (6)LL56

Mike Male tells us that the picture above is of Sue Clifford on GMP, Brian Piket on Air and Mike Davies on the lights

Scan_20150828 (8)LL57

Mike Male on right. Mike thinks it is Rob Spooner in the picture with him.

the next four VCR photos are from Malcolm Hemming


LL VCR GMC2 facing south – John Siddell GMC2, Mike Turner with U/T GMC1, Al Haines (WM)


LL VCR GMC2 handover – Ian Montgomerie/John Siddell


LL VCR GMC split – two lighting Ops – Andy Marsh, Malcolm Judge, Monty, and Angus McCormack distracted on Air Deps


VCR one Xmas day – Ray Hutchings, Rachel X, Amy Hutchings (youth opportunity…), Angus McCormack, Chris Wilson, Mike Baggaley (up from SVFR for some daylight), Mick Dyer, Craig Greenfield, Kevin Day doing the work.

Howard Thomas sent in the next two photos of the VCR

LHR 1114LL61a

Celia Kunert, Richard Dawson, Tony Paintin, Howard Thomas with, in the background, Geoff Bullock and Roger Kunert

LHR 2116LL61b

Roger Kunert talking to Bob ??, Howard Thomas, Tony Paintin and Richard Dawson, and ?? in far background

Scan_20150828 (9)LL62

Scan_20150828 (10)LL63

This is a ‘posed’ publicity shot of the 1989 Ground Floor approach room prior to O date.
ATSAs simulating position occupancy, Eric Percival on the desk

egll VDULL63a


Thames Radar 1995LL64

The legend says Thames Radar 1995. Its the Thames/Special suite but probably staged as ‘Thames Radar’. Shows City Radar position manned but radar is set to Thames long-range search.

Heathrow radar towerLL65

EGLL HSA radar (6)LL66

Heathrow radar tower

Marconi 264 1960 maybe EGLLLL67

Marconi 264 radar, possibly at Heathrow

264 radar EGLLLL68

ACR 6 colourLL69

ACR 6 radar

EGLL glidepathLL70

ILS Glidepath

EGLL Thompson CSF ILS (1)LL71

EGLL Thompson CSF ILS (2)LL72

PAR plus truckLL73


some more photos from John Douglas



egll tower 2 jd


egll adc_gmc jd2


egll arrival info




egll lighting panel


sids egll

LL80  Standard Instrument Departures


LL82 EGLL ASPR display, on the right the SVFR position showing the Heli-Routes


LL84 Below the Approach lighting at EGLL

EGLL app lighting

And now a selection of photos from Mike Inglis



Phil Layton and Tony Croft – North Approach and No1 Radar Director, EGLL APP, 1984/5



R to L – Gerry Nicholas, No1 South Director, Kevin Day, SVFR, John Siddell, No2 Director, Tony Croft, No1 Director, unidentified ATSA – he/she was moving too fast!



Paul Louden – Approach Supervisor



Gerry Nicholas – No1 South Director



Radar Console – No1 South Director


LL90 This is a serious looking me doing 09L Arrivals at Heathrow being watched by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, Lord King (British Airways) and Keith Williams.


LL91  its been suggested that on GMC this is Ian MacKay. Pete Bish tells us that the assistant is definitely long serving Robina Wallace and my money for the GMC controller is on Geoff Nash. Possibly George Ennis standing at the back…?


LL92 ……and that this Heathrow north approach controller is Chris Swann.

16 thoughts on “EGLL Heathrow ATC”

  1. LL29. What do you have to do to get blue earpads (rather than the usual grey) for your headset ? I’ve only seen blue pads twice before.


    1. some controllers had homemade (?) cloth earpiece covers died in a colour of their choosing. More spectacular were the leather replacement headbands made by I think a controller at ScATCC. They came in a range of colour with your motif, name, nickname, initials etc engraved in the leather


  2. And LL91, the assistant is definitely long serving Robina Wallace and my money for the GMC controller is on Geoff Nash. Possibly George Ennis standing at the back…?


  3. Hi John,

    Sorry for delay… Re LL31, I concede this is probably me ! I agree with original comments that No.1 South is Al Carter and Special VFR Alastair McLean.


  4. LL58 Dick Dawson in “The Pit”. Recognise that parting anywhere! Dick and Sid spinning from D onto E watch afternoon shift. I believe the GMC trainee is Peter Duffy. He didn’t make it.
    Kevin Day


  5. LL 54 Yes Paddy Tracy on lights he was a neighbour of mine from Northfield rd heston and my Father Martin Richards worked in Telemove.


  6. LL56 – Sue is actually the Tower Supervisor sitting at the Sup’s desk. Picture is taken from the top of the stairs looking North. Compare with LL54.


  7. Regarding the colour photo of the old 6th floor app room, South Director is Nick Crawford, North Approach is Definitely Pete Bish, No 2 is Pat Flynn, and although I wouldn’t swear on it I think SVFR is Chris Prentice, I really don’t think it is Alastair McLean.

    Chris Huggett


    1. thanks Chris
      I’ll add those to the options. I think Pete Bish has had a look so hope to get some feedback from him and I understand that Al Carter has been asked to have a look too.

      John Levesley


  8. I think it is Rob Spooner in the picture with me.

    The picture above that is Sue Clifford on GMP, Brian Piket on Air and Mike Davies on the lights

    Mike Male


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