LEP Air Services/Transport

Operated at SEN from Apr 1949 to Dec 1995

One of Britain’s oldest and longest running freight companies opened its doors in London during 1851 and carried on trading until finally going into receivership during January 1996. As far as operations at SEN were concerned, LEP Air Transport opened its airport office in the spring of 1949 under the management of Tommy Thomas and almost immediately started to fly textile contracts between Lille and Southend, these having previously been operated from Bovingdon. Bond Air Services would be the first airline to initiate this service between May and June 1949 using its converted Halifaxes, although the airline collapsed not long after this contract had expired and it was left to British American to step in and take up the reins.

However, this airline eventually collapsed too after which Crewsair was then given the opportunity to take over this contract beginning in March 1950. However, during the summer of this year, this airline became so busy with passenger and freight charters that LEP eventually decided to procure one of Crewsair’s Vickers Viking aircraft solely for the purpose of carrying out these flights. The aircraft was summarily leased back to the airline which used her for other purposes as and when she was free. Eventually, the contract came to an end in the autumn of 1952 and this Viking (the only aircraft that was ever owned by LEP at Southend) was sold on.

Moving forward into the 1950 and 1960s, LEP would be kept busy with much of the freight that was being flown in and out of Southend by Channel Air Bridge. At the time, CAB was operating nine Bristol 170s, each of which would make numerous trips across the English Channel every day. Needless to say, they would also deal with other freight too. As such, with Southend becoming the second busiest airport in the country for freight movements during the early to mid 1960s, LEP went from strength to strength, hence their longevity at the airport. Rolling forward to the 1980s and the downturn in freight flights, LEP retained a presence at the airport, although it moved its main centre of operations at Southend to a warehouse on Temple Farm Industrial Estate where it remained until the entire company went into administration in 1995.


With thanks to Richard Nash and Peter Clark for help with this page


LEP Air Transport fleet from 1951 to 1952

Vickers Viking

G-AHOP – 11/51 to 9/52

Sold to Airwork Ltd


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