Lydd Airport hits milestone

Dirk Bogarde SUS-141107-120908001
Dirk Bogarde SUS-141107-120908001

LYDD Airport is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

More than half a century ago Lydd Airport was one of the busiest airports in Europe.

Remarkably, it was recognised as the air gateway to Britain and was regularly used by royalty and Hollywood celebrities.

The airport on Romney Marsh now has its focus firmly set on an even more successful future as it embarks on the first phase of a £25 million redevelopment.

It was a different story back in July 1948 when Silver City Airways opened its car and passenger cross-Channel service using existing terminal airports at Lympne in south-east Kent and Le Touquet in north-west France. The sites were chosen because they provided the shortest link to the Continent.

Royal recognition was given to Silver City and Lydd Airport in April 1956, when Prince Philip flew his personal DH Heron aircraft into Lydd and toured the airport.

And, as daily flights linking Lydd with Le Touquet and Ostend in Belgium continued to thrive, the airport handled 222,828 passengers in 1958 – nearly 37,000 more than Gatwick.

By the 1960s Lydd had become an internationally-recognised airport with royalty and celebrities such as Gregory Peck, Diana Dors and Humphrey Bogart regularly flying in and out.

Within 10 years of opening it had become one of Europe’s busiest airports and hugely popular with well-heeled holidaymakers who wanted to take their cars and family to the Continent. At the same time Lydd also became a gateway to Britain for thousands of continental visitors and business travellers.

However, the growth of the roll-on, roll-off cross-Channel car ferry market from Dover and Folkestone undermined Lydd and the service declined during the 1970s.