Ahead of Heathrow’s 75th anniversary on May 31, the airport has launched a virtual museum showcasing the personal stories of colleagues, passengers and members of the local community.

Despite this being the most difficult year in the airport’s history due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Heathrow said that this anniversary will reflect on the “huge journey of growth undertaken in its 75 years” while also looking to the future.

Heathrow airport opened for civilian aviation in 1946 and has since welcomed over 2.5 billion passengers, including British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, the Beatles, and Her Majesty the Queen. The airport has also been featured in British films, with scenes from Love Actually filmed at Terminal 3 in 2003.

It is already possible to view a collection of stories, memorabilia and archive imagery on the Heathrow Historians virtual museum. Highlights include Mike Tunstall describing the last Concorde flights, and Ian Bird discussing the monitoring of airport operations for any risk from the Millennium Bug in 1999.

The airport has also explored its own archive at the University of West London, incorporating “momentous moments from the past 75 years” onto the website. Examples include the opening of Terminal 4 by HRH The Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1986, and the arrival of the first ever A380 to the airport in 2006.

As longstanding airport partners, British Airways, NATS and WH Smith have also contributed to the virtual museum.

The airport is asking the public to contribute their own memories of the commercial airport to mark the milestone. If you would like to submit your own memories of the airport, you can email your stories to [email protected].

Heathrow Historian Keith Bollands said:

“It was my first-ever flight from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 at the age of 10 that sparked what has been a life-long interest in aviation. From then, to visiting the roof gardens of the Queens Building in the school holidays, and to my role in the Security Team at Heathrow, the airport has played a significant part in my life. I’m so pleased to see just some of my memories of visiting, travelling through and working at such an iconic location reflected in the archive.”

Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye added:

“Over the past 75 years Heathrow has undergone an incredible transformation, from a once military airport, to a national asset and globally recognised brand.

“Heathrow Historians provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the people who make Heathrow possible, and to commemorate the long-serving connections many of our colleagues, passengers and local community members share with the airport. As we cast our eyes forward to the next 75 years, I look forward to watching Heathrow recover from its worst year to grow from strength to strength, protecting the benefits of aviation for future generations to come.”

Earlier this year, the airport reported an annual loss of £2 billion for 2020, with the number of passengers passing through its terminals falling to just over 22 million.

Heathrow added that the “airport has had to draw on its seven decades of experience in safely and securely seeing passengers on their way” during the global pandemic, and looks forward to “reuniting friends and families, creating connections and making memories” in the future.