SEN Historical Titbits

Over the past couple of years I’ve been handed or have during my rather intensive researching endeavours, come across a number of pictures and video links that for one reason or other, I’ve found difficult to place elsewhere on this website. So, rather than letting them sit and fester on my ageing hard drive, I have instead decided to create this ‘Historical SEN Titbits’ page where I will also attempt to add any relevant information that is knocking around within the ever expanding SAAD archives. Please note that despite extensive efforts, I have been unable to source the original owners of some of the photographs below and as such, if you see a picture that belongs to you, then please do not hesitate to contact me on saadinfomail@gmail.com and I will gladly apply the appropriate credits or indeed, remove said photo if so required (however, please note that removal requests do not apply to postcards, promotional pictures or adverts that were taken prior to 1967, as these are no longer copyright protected).

 

1949

An extremely early and immensely evocative publicity shot of SEN’s fledgling years. Clearly apparent are close to 20 ex-RAF Halifax bombers and Halton civil conversions, some of which were leased to other companies for use on the Berlin Airlift, while the rest would eventually be broken for spares. You can read more about these aircraft by clicking here. Many thanks to Peter Clark for sourcing this image.

 

December 1956

This classic Tony Hancke shot gives us a perfect view of SEN’s original control tower replete with the EKCO ARAA radar dish which is clearly perched on top. Alongside privately owned Auster G-AJPU sits Aeronca C.3 Collegian G-AEFT which became something of a permanent fixture in front of the tower from late 1956 until the the summer of 1959 when she finally moved on to pastures new. For much of her time at Southend, she was under private ownership although she would spend her last year at the airport as part of the Aeronca Flying Group.

 

c.1957

A typical late ’50s view of SEN with Channel’s two ‘new’ Bristol 170 Freighters evident on the northern apron. A number of Air Charter’s ‘Air Bridge’ Bristol 170s are also present, along with what were the backbone of Channel’s fleet at the time, namely several DH.104 Doves. Also of note is the languishing pile of Aviation Traders’ Percival Prentices in the centre left of the shot.

 

c.June 1958

In this evocative shot, Brian Doherty has caught Aeronca C.3 Collegian G-AEFT once again parked in front of the tower at SEN. Behind this aircraft can be seen the tail of G-AIFO B-170 Mk-31E, the tail of a D.H.104 Dove and the nose of a DH-89A Dragon Rapide, all of which are likely EAFS/Channel Airways aircraft. Also of note is the old Bedford airport ambulance. The cream hut on the left was where B.E.A. had their engineering set up between October and March and it became the local haunt of B.E.A. engineer Tug Wilson who was based at SEN during the winter months to handle the Heathrow diversions that had become a regular occurrence during the late-50s though to the early-60s.

Submitted by Peter Clark

 

Spring 1960

This picture would have been captured around the spring of 1960. It’s taken from the eastern end of the northern apron facing east toward the threshold of R/W 33 which at the time was being used for extra parking. The D.H.114-2D Heron G-ANUO was at the time owned and operated by the Shell Company of the UK and behind her to the left is an Overseas TAAC – Trans-Africa Air Coach Canadair C-4 Argonaut (possibly G-ALHT). To the right are Tradair’s Vickers Viscount 707s G-APZB & G-APZC and one Channel D.H.104 Dove; the registration of which is undetermined.

Submitted by Peter Clark

 

Summer 1960

Another great Ken Woolcott shot, this time taken from the air, shows a bevy of C.A.B. and Channel Airways B170s, not to mention a Tradair Viscount and of course, the huge gaggle of Prentices that had been unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the airport by ATEL’s Freddie Laker. Peter Clark has provided a more detailed account of this picture which you can find by clicking here. With thanks to Graham Mee and to Marc Wilmott for sourcing the picture above.

 

c.Spring 1961

Another famous postcard shot of SEN taken by John R. Simmons shows Southend Municipal Flying School’s Auster G-AMFP cruising over the airport. Clearly evident on the apron are a number of Channel Air Bridge’s Bristol 170s and B.U.A. C-54s/DC-4s while in the lower left hand corner, Mike Keegan’s Catalina G-APZA and Tradair’s ex-King’s Flight Viking G-APWS can also be clearly seen. One further point of interest is that the large pile of unwanted ATEL Prentices had been cleared from both the centre and the rear of the airport and melted down by the time that this shot was taken.

 

May 1961

This picture shows Flying Enterprise Canadair C.4 Argonaut OY-AFC (ex-G-ALHD) being prepared to go off on lease with this fledgling, Danish airline. Behind is Vickers Viking G-AGRV of Tradair still in Hunting Clan colours, this aircraft having been withdrawn from use in March. To the rear is Vickers Viking OO-EEN of Aviameer Airlines which had also been looked after by Overseas Aviation, although by this time, it too had been removed from service. Beyond OO-EEN is the black, ATEL Bellman Hangar in which Yankee Bravo the first ATL.98 was built and finally on the extreme right behind G-AGRV is the completed western end of the ATEL flight shed. With thanks to Graham Mee and to Peter Clark for sourcing the picture.

Submitted by Peter Clark

 

Summer 1963

This wonderful Flightglobal picture shows SEN in its prime, when both freight flights and car-ferry services were more or less at their peak. Numerous aircraft are present too, the bulk of which consists of BUAF Carvairs and Bristol Superfreighters (including the Sabena B170) all on the main apron nearest to the viewer, while further away are a couple of Channel Vikings, a pair of DC-3s and a single Dove. Also of note are Channel’s two (black nosed – well dark green actually…) Mk21 Freighters on the northern apron. Finally, a DC-4 is present which could well be Channel’s G-ARRY.

Other aircraft of note in the bottom right hand corner include EKCO’s Anson G-ALIH and an engineless ex-Tradair Viking while moving up is yet another Anson tucked in between the hangars which is likely to be a B.K.S Aerosurveys Anson G-APHV as by this time, this was the only one of its type left in the fleet. To the left, against the side of ATEL’s hangar is what appears to be an Ambassador fuselage. Indeed, G-AMAF was known to have been transported by road to SEN on April 29th for spares use with B.K.S. Finally, in front of the ATEL hangar is a Prentice, registration unknown.

 

1966

Harry Faber’s short Cine 8 film of Southend movements during 1966

Click here to view

 

c.1966

Another familiar SEN postcard shot taken from the ATC tower around 1966. Present on the apron are numerous Channel Airways aircraft including former Tradair 700 series Viscount G-APZB just to the left of the tower, while one of the company’s newest arrivals, an ex-Continental 812 series Viscount sits on the northern apron flanked by another 700 series aircraft (evident by the missing black wrap around the cockpit windows). Channel’s sole DC-4 G-ARRY also sits to the left of Viscount ZB, no doubt awaiting another load of passengers for the short hop to Ostend. Meanwhile, the western part of the southern and northern apron is dominated by BUAF’s Bristol 170s and Carvairs.

 

July 1973

For many of us more seasoned SEN enthusiasts, the shot above both epitomises and captures most effectively what the airport was all about, namely a place where you could go to see an eclectic mix of old and ageing airliners that had found a second, third or even fourth lease of life with smaller airlines. The two outer aircraft were still fully functional during this period with Vanguard SE-FTI having previously returned from a lease with Air Trader of Sweden several months earlier. At the other end is Aer Turas DC-4 EI-ARS which was a regular visitor to SEN for maintenance and the odd freight charter flight. Meanwhile, nestled between is corrosion riddled Vanguard G-BAMX which was scrapped the following year having returned from a lease with Merpati of Indonesia. Finally, former Eastern Provincial Carvair CF-EPV spent her last few years as a spares donor for BAF’s aircraft and was finally broken up in 1978, although her cockpit was saved and is as such the only major part of a Carvair still extant in the UK.

 

1976

Ron Circus has put together a nice video compilation of pages from a 1976 Southend Airport Official Manual.

Click here to view

 

November 1976

The more observant amongst you will probably recognise this classic Richard Vandervord shot from the SAAD website banner. Captured from Warner’s Bridge after a rather busy evening of diversions due to many of the surrounding airports being fogged in, the SEN apron finds itself packed full of a number of rather unusual visitors. Four British Caledonian BAC 1-11s are instantly recognisable, their registrations being G-ASJF, G-AWYT, G-AWYV and G-AZMF while three BIA Heralds are also evident and consist of G-APWE, G-APWG and G-AVEZ. Finally, Air Anglia F-27 G-BDVT completes the line-up. However, CL-44 G-AXAA clearly takes pride of position in this image and while these Transmeridian aircraft were regular visitors to SEN during the 1970s, it would again seem that this aircraft’s arrival was the result of a diversion. Finally, a Carvair can be seen lifting off probably on a car-ferry flight. By this time, Carvair vehicle operations had been reduced to 5 per day (Ostend x 2, Rotterdam x 1 and Le Touquet x 2 with a single Basle service on Wed, Fri & Sun only) and less than two months later on January 1st 1977, they would be abandoned permanently.

 

July 1981

During the early 1980s, SEN’s northern apron would become something of a parking lot for an ever increasing number of H.P.R.7 Heralds which were slowly but surely finding their duties being usurped by the growing volume of Viscounts that were arriving from ex-British Airways stock. In fact, by the time that this picture was taken, ten Viscounts had been taken on by BAF with most of them having already entered service with the airline. That said, some of these Heralds would operate on with G-APWA (far left) going off on one final lease to Air Ecosse during the winter of 1981/82 before being WFU. G-BCWE meanwhile was leased to Air UK for part of 1981 and much of 1982 while G-AVPN was a Air UK owned aircraft. At this time, Air UK were operating flights in and out of SEN although the reason why these two Heralds have been parked up in this position is unknown.

 

June 1982

One of my very first shots taken at SEN with my brand new 110 camera, which obviously left a lot to be desired as far as picture quality was concerned. Nevertheless, this view of the former G.A parking area, taken from the old viewing deck shows a fully functioning corporation shed, Heavylift’s spares ship, Belfast G-OHCA and if you look carefully, a reflection of the sign which warned aviation enthusiasts “It is regretted that the operation of portable radios is prohibited under the terms of airport bye laws”.

 

August 1984

Another great shot taken by Mike Hopwood clearly displays the end of another SEN era as much of the BAF Herald fleet finally makes way for their Viscount replacements which had been arriving at Southend from 1981 onwards. For a good part of 1983 and 1984, the northern apron at SEN had become something of a storage area for these now redundant aircraft. Here can be seen (from left to right) Heralds G-APWA, G-BEYD, G-BEYE, G-BEYJ and finally G-BCWE in a Trans Azur livery. Somewhat curiously, it was the TAA adorned Herald G-BCWE that would end up being the only one of the five to gain a reprieve, even if this return to service was somewhat temporary. However, G-APWA was later saved and is now preserved at Woodley.

 

Summer 1988

Another Ken Woolcott picture taken from roughly the same aerial position as the picture from 1960 above. Indeed, as far as the main airport buildings are concerned little has actually changed, the only noticeable addition being the former ATEL hangers which were constructed during the early ’60s. Evident in this shot are two BAF Heralds, two BAF Viscounts (the one outside the Heavylift hangar being G-APIM which was clobbered by an errant Shorts 330 in January of this year) and a Heavylift Belfast. Other aircraft of interest are what looks to be a pair of Hubbardair DHC-6 Twotters and of course the venerable Vulcan which arrived at the airport in 1986. Next to the Vulcan is likely a National Airways King Air 200 as this was where this airline tended to park its aircraft during this time. Again, many thanks to Graham Mee and to Peter Clark for sourcing this picture.

 

Winter 1990/1991

From 1987 onwards, the SEN skyline would increasingly become littered with stored or unwanted Viscount fuselages. G-AOHT, G-AOYL and G-BNAA would be the first to appear, having been withdrawn from BAF service and were over the coming years, slowly pulled apart for parts and spares. This particular picture shows a typical scene from this era with (left to right) Viscounts G-AZNA, G-OHOT, G-BAPG and G-BAPF all awaiting their fates. Curiously enough, despite the mass scrapping of Viscounts that took place at Southend up until 1997, only one of the four aircraft above (G-BAPG) ended up being broken up at the airport, while two of these aircraft still survive to this very day with G-AZNA now acting as a gate guardian for a nightclub in Belgium while G-BAPF is just about clinging on to life at the Morton-on-the-Marsh fire training facility where she was previously used for non-destructive training. As far as G-OHOT was concerned, she was later reactivated only to be destroyed in a crash near Uttoxeter on February 25th 1994.

 

Summer 1992

This Austin J. Brown picture displays a similar perspective to the 1949 ATEL shot above and clearly shows how much SEN has developed since the post-war period. Present is a Heavylift Belfast and to the left their Canadair CL-44J EI-BRP, the fuselage of which was later broken up during August of this year. Also present are a number of unidentifiable BAF Viscounts although the Viscount (2nd left) on the northern apron is likely to be G-CSZB due to the fact that she was the only one of her type in full BAF livery with a black radar nose cone. Meanwhile, next to her sits BAF 1-11 G-AZUK which was stored here for some of 1992, while an OCS Short 330 sits at the other end of this apron.

 

March 1993 to March 1995

Robin J. Pinnock has produced a wonderful series of seven videos that cover a good number of 707 visits to SEN between March 1993 to October 2001. All seven are available to view on YouTube.

Click here to view Part One

 

September/October 1994

Another typical although admittedly quiet SEN apron shot taken during the early autumn of 1994. Evident to the left is Boeing VR-CCB which came to Southend for pre-delivery checks and a slight adjustment to her livery on September 28th before heading off to new owner HS Aviation as VR-CHS via Heathrow on October 11th. This aircraft would eventually return to Southend in 1996 to be fitted with a pair of winglets. On the northern apron is long term resident Phoenix Aviation Boeing 707 9G-TWO which finally departed as 5Y-SIM in March 1995, having sat idle at the airport since August 1993.

 

Mid 1990s to Late 1990s

Robin J. Pinnock has produced a compilation video of Boeing 727 visits to SEN. This video includes footage of N721MF, TC-AFC, TC-AFB, VR-CCB, VR-BHN, VP-CWC, HZ-AB3 and G-BNNI, the last of which was dismantled at SEN before being transported by road and ship to Denmark where she was reassembled and is now used as an advertising showroom and conference centre.

Click here to view

 

If you have any other classic shots of SEN which were taken between 1947 & 2002 and that you would like to add to this page, then please don’t hesitate to send them to saadinfomail@gmail.com and I will more than happily upload them here.

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin team.