Croydon Airport Visitor Centre

Croydon Airport Visitor Centre

Croydon Airport Visitor Centre
5
Military Museums • Speciality Museums • History Museums
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Sunday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
About
Croydon Airport Visitor Centre micro-museum- located in Airport House, Purley Way, Croydon CR0 0XZ. Open on the 1st Sunday of the month throughout the year. Special Open Days at other times- see website for details. Haley Sharpe designed and winner of a British Tourism Award, featuring interactive displays and storyboards. It tells the story of Britain's first major international airport through World War I, Imperial Airways , record-breaking flights by the likes of Amy Johnson and others, the Battle of Britain and much, much more.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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  • stewtick
    112 contributions
    Fantastic Slice of Aviation History!
    Two stew friends finally hit on a layover on the one day a month this FANTASTIC aviation relic is open to the public (first Sunday of every month)! Beginning with Ian Walker's engaging and masterful tour and historic narrative, and finishing with going up into the first and oldest control tower in the world, Croydon's Airport did not disappoint! The many old photographs, etchings, aircraft models, posters, letters, and the stunning neoclassical building itself provided a fascinating insight into the beginnings of our livelihood - the transport aviation industry. Artifacts from Britain's answer to Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, as well as Ian's stories brought the challenge of this new mode of transportation to vivid life! I'd very much like to visit again, and spend even more time exploring the exhibits and collections within. An easy and inexpensive trip from our hotel in the city, I HIGHLY recommend this to any who continue to be fascinated by air travel and the evolution from wicker chairs, unsecured in cold, unpressurized cabins, to the lay-flat seats and amenities enjoyed by the elite travellers today. GO!
    Visited February 2020
    Traveled with friends
    Written February 2, 2020
  • Deanne
    Ilminster, United Kingdom637 contributions
    Worth a visit to Ldn’s first international airport
    Open on the first Sunday of every month, runs all day but there are local guides who run tours every 20 minutes or so. Worth a visit, Croydon was Britain’s first international airport until the late 50’s. There is lots to see here covering the 50 years it was operational, including the flight control tower, departure hall etc. Very reasonable too as they only ask for a £5 donation and is run by local volunteers.
    Visited January 2020
    Traveled as a couple
    Written January 5, 2020
  • Millie024
    Llantwit Major, United Kingdom523 contributions
    Something different
    Open the first Sunday of every month, we planned our visit along with lunch with an old friend, so we had the last tour at 2.50. On arrival, the volunteer was expecting us for our tour. We were able to park right outside the terminal building, now painted white, unlike in its glory days. Normally this building is an office building, but retains the atmosphere of an air port terminal. After a brief introduction, assisted by a good model of how the airport used to look, we saw a short video based on old postcards, giving an impression of what it might have been like to fly out of Croydon, when it was the first international airport. There were only two ‘gates’ and it was possible to arrive only fifteen minutes prior to your take off time. Adjacent to the airport was a large hotel, still open. The runways were grass. When expansion was planned, the people of Croydon opted not to have more air traffic, and Heathrow became the main airport rather than Croydon. It was salutary to be reminded how primitive were conditions on early passenger flights, which had no loos, for example. However, the flights to and from Paris carried a stock of drinks equivalent in weight to four passengers. I was shocked to learn that the load of fuel was decided by the pilot, and from time to time a passenger or two had to be left behind as a result of a more substantial weighting of fuel. The tour also includes a small museum, containing a kit bag fished out of the sea when Amy Johnson’s plane was lost, and examples of the glassware and Ceramics used on the silver service flights from Paris. We learnt that the Poirot episode involving a murder in the air was actually filmed at Shoreham rather than Croydon, where the actual flight would have landed. We were able to visit the control tower, and learn something of the early days of air traffic control. Altogether a very interesting and unusual visit.
    Visited July 2021
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 5, 2021
  • jivebanana
    Coulsdon, United Kingdom590 contributions
    A great tour
    What a treat. Lovely volunteer guides with loads of knowledge will give you a tour of the original airport building including the control tower. A brilliant VR video really gives you a sense of the building in the 1920s and how important this airport was to the beginning of air travel. There are stairs up to the control tower so if you have mobility issues that might be worth checking out. The building is only open on the first Sunday of the month and although it is free to join the tour you do need to prebook and a donation of £6 pp is expected. The tour was well worth it and it was really fascinating.
    Visited July 2021
    Traveled as a couple
    Written August 1, 2021
  • Richard M
    London, United Kingdom20 contributions
    Unexpectedly interesting visit
    This is the old terminal building of what was once London's main airport. It is now opened by a team of enthusiastic and well-organised volunteers once each month. In exchange for an optional donation, you receive a tour inside and outside the terminal building, including going up the airport control tower. There are some interesting things on show, some good written displays and a video showing what the airport was once like. Well worth a visit for anybody in the area.
    Visited October 2021
    Written October 5, 2021
  • Alex C
    1 contribution
    Good local museum of the start of air travel
    The museum has just opened again after many months been closed due to Covid. To control the number of guests you need to pre-book, this is fairly easy on the website. The tour was fantastic with plenty of useful information. Inside the museum has interesting photos and once again more volunteers to answer any questions and give a bit of background info. In the control tower there is a replica of the radio operators office and some of the old equipment. Easy to get to from Croydon.
    Visited September 2020
    Written September 6, 2020
  • Phil Swallow
    Croydon, United Kingdom72 contributions
    Excellent place to visit in Croydon!
    What an amazing place to visit! Steeped in history, the first airport to use a Control Tower design that has stood to this day. It hosted celebrities of the day and many history makers. It played a part in the defence of London during the Battle of Britain. Wonderful neo-classical architecture, a stunning array of photos, posters, artefacts and exhibits. Run brilliantly by a team of volunteers, and Covid measures carried out with minimum of fuss. Honestly I have been buzzing about this since I got home! To think that we have this on our doorstep in Croydon is quite amazing really. The tours are run on the first Sunday of each month and tickets are easy to arrange via the website or Eventbrite. Mark you diary and arrange a visit, I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
    Visited December 2021
    Written December 5, 2021
  • 210Clairey35
    Marlow, United Kingdom10 contributions
    Fascinating piece of history
    A really fascinating insight into the early years of commercial flight. Really interesting tour with well informed guides. Highly recommend this to all the family, young and old. Our family day out ranged from 6 - 95 years old and all loved it. Check out the control tower with a Spitfire simulator and the dressing up room where kids and indeed adults can recreate the outfits of the early 1900’s to the last flight out of Croydon in 1959, which kept the kids occupied for a very long time. Great day out.
    Visited January 2020
    Traveled with family
    Written January 5, 2020
  • LizinKL
    1,553 contributions
    I learnt a lot about Croydon airport.
    I learnt so much on this visit, I had no idea that Croydon airport used to be so important and has such a rich and interesting history. The open day is well worth while. The guides are really knowledgeable and enthusiastic and the tour is not at all rushed. We were even able to go up to the control tower. Entry is free but you are asked to give a donation, which is well worthwhile.
    Visited June 2021
    Written June 9, 2021
  • LFleet
    Bournemouth, United Kingdom6 contributions
    Perfect for anyone that wants to learn about the local history of Croydon
    If you want to learn a little more about Croydon's rich local history, this is the place for you. The volunteers are very knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic. You can walk around the main room, which has historical pictures, timelines of the airport, a table of informative books you can buy, and a small cafe in the corner. When you enter, you are greeted by the volunteers that ask for a small donation to allow them to continue the great work that they do. The tour takes you around the outside of the building, and the guide paints a picture of what the airport looked like when it was open. They take you back inside to the main area to watch a video of an excellent CGI reconstruction of what someone at the time would have experienced coming into the airport. You are then guided up to the control tower whilst passing many historical pictures of people working in the airport. After walking around the control tower, you are brought back to the main area where the tour finishes. (This is based on my experience of the tour) The control tower was well laid out with different activities for you to do to experience what they would have had to do back when it was operational. If you look at the pictures in the corridors walking up to the tower, you can work out where people would have worked, which was incredible to imagine. The museum underneath is full of the original pieces from the planes and instruments. I can see only one possible downside. There could have been some signs at the front saying that you can park in the front car park because the sign for the visitors centre could be misunderstood to mean that you should park at the back of the building. I highly recommend, and if you get a chance at the end of the tour, go and look at the Purley Way Lido diving boards that can be seen across the road.
    Visited May 2022
    Written May 1, 2022
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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5.0
344 reviews
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jivebanana
Coulsdon, UK590 contributions
Jul 2021 • Couples
What a treat. Lovely volunteer guides with loads of knowledge will give you a tour of the original airport building including the control tower. A brilliant VR video really gives you a sense of the building in the 1920s and how important this airport was to the beginning of air travel.

There are stairs up to the control tower so if you have mobility issues that might be worth checking out.
The building is only open on the first Sunday of the month and although it is free to join the tour you do need to prebook and a donation of £6 pp is expected. The tour was well worth it and it was really fascinating.
Written August 1, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Richard M
London, UK20 contributions
Oct 2021
This is the old terminal building of what was once London's main airport. It is now opened by a team of enthusiastic and well-organised volunteers once each month. In exchange for an optional donation, you receive a tour inside and outside the terminal building, including going up the airport control tower. There are some interesting things on show, some good written displays and a video showing what the airport was once like. Well worth a visit for anybody in the area.
Written October 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alex C
1 contribution
Sep 2020
The museum has just opened again after many months been closed due to Covid. To control the number of guests you need to pre-book, this is fairly easy on the website. The tour was fantastic with plenty of useful information. Inside the museum has interesting photos and once again more volunteers to answer any questions and give a bit of background info. In the control tower there is a replica of the radio operators office and some of the old equipment. Easy to get to from Croydon.
Written September 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Phil Swallow
Croydon, UK72 contributions
Dec 2021
What an amazing place to visit! Steeped in history, the first airport to use a Control Tower design that has stood to this day. It hosted celebrities of the day and many history makers. It played a part in the defence of London during the Battle of Britain. Wonderful neo-classical architecture, a stunning array of photos, posters, artefacts and exhibits. Run brilliantly by a team of volunteers, and Covid measures carried out with minimum of fuss. Honestly I have been buzzing about this since I got home! To think that we have this on our doorstep in Croydon is quite amazing really. The tours are run on the first Sunday of each month and tickets are easy to arrange via the website or Eventbrite. Mark you diary and arrange a visit, I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
Written December 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

210Clairey35
Marlow, UK10 contributions
Jan 2020 • Family
A really fascinating insight into the early years of commercial flight. Really interesting tour with well informed guides. Highly recommend this to all the family, young and old. Our family day out ranged from 6 - 95 years old and all loved it. Check out the control tower with a Spitfire simulator and the dressing up room where kids and indeed adults can recreate the outfits of the early 1900’s to the last flight out of Croydon in 1959, which kept the kids occupied for a very long time. Great day out.
Written January 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LizinKL
Kuala Lumpur1,553 contributions
Jun 2021
I learnt so much on this visit, I had no idea that Croydon airport used to be so important and has such a rich and interesting history. The open day is well worth while. The guides are really knowledgeable and enthusiastic and the tour is not at all rushed. We were even able to go up to the control tower. Entry is free but you are asked to give a donation, which is well worthwhile.
Written June 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LFleet
Bournemouth, UK6 contributions
May 2022
If you want to learn a little more about Croydon's rich local history, this is the place for you.

The volunteers are very knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic. You can walk around the main room, which has historical pictures, timelines of the airport, a table of informative books you can buy, and a small cafe in the corner. When you enter, you are greeted by the volunteers that ask for a small donation to allow them to continue the great work that they do.

The tour takes you around the outside of the building, and the guide paints a picture of what the airport looked like when it was open. They take you back inside to the main area to watch a video of an excellent CGI reconstruction of what someone at the time would have experienced coming into the airport. You are then guided up to the control tower whilst passing many historical pictures of people working in the airport. After walking around the control tower, you are brought back to the main area where the tour finishes. (This is based on my experience of the tour)

The control tower was well laid out with different activities for you to do to experience what they would have had to do back when it was operational. If you look at the pictures in the corridors walking up to the tower, you can work out where people would have worked, which was incredible to imagine. The museum underneath is full of the original pieces from the planes and instruments.

I can see only one possible downside. There could have been some signs at the front saying that you can park in the front car park because the sign for the visitors centre could be misunderstood to mean that you should park at the back of the building.

I highly recommend, and if you get a chance at the end of the tour, go and look at the Purley Way Lido diving boards that can be seen across the road.
Written May 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

douglasgflower
Croydon, UK30 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
Simply brilliant ! If you like local
Military or aviation history . Don’t miss the once a month ( first Sunday ) opportunity to visit . I learnt so much . Initially a guided tour around the outside of the museum revealed the architecture , ww2 Battle of Britain bomb damage and reconstructed pioneer radar . Inside a similarly fascinating tour of the building ticket offices and control Tower . There are so many photos and artefacts that a second or third visit is essential . I will be back .
Written January 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

John F
Buckinghamshire, UK501 contributions
Mar 2022
A very well organised guided tour. Different volunteers cover different parts of the tour - so a change of voice every so often. Even the welcome at the door was professional, warm and efficient.
The highlight for me was a very well put together CGI film of a passenger journey through the airport in the 1930s. Everyone was glued to the screen.
We drove for 90 minutes to get here - and it was well worth the journey, let alone the "suggested £6 donation". This is value for money at twice this price!
Whether you are interested in Croydon, London, aviation, archiecture or social history, you will find this fascinating.
Large free car park. Clean toilets. No refreshments, but the retail park opposite has a McDonalds and Costa.
Ideal Sunday morning outing.
Written March 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daren
5 contributions
Jul 2021
Lived in the area for many years and been meaning to do this visit for a long time, got some family history associated with the airport, my grandfather served there in WWII.
Fascinating tour, our guide Neil was very knowledgeable and really evoked a sense of the various time periods of the airport. The view from the control tower was excellent, as it was a clear day, and you can really get a sense of why it was built there with its panoramic view of London. The museum is small but very interesting and filled with lots of memorabilia of flying. We were very lucky to view a 3D computer model of what the airport would have looked like in its heyday, created by one of the volunteers. I hope this becomes a permanent feature of the airport tour. In summary its an a fascinating look at how modern air travel began and well worth 1 or 2 hours of your time.
Written July 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Croydon Airport Visitor Centre - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about Croydon Airport Visitor Centre

Croydon Airport Visitor Centre is open:
  • Sun - Sun 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM



Croydon Airport Visitor Centre Information

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