Croydon Airport to stage wreath-laying at Purley crash site

The Historic Croydon Airport Trust will be staging a solemn commemoration in Purley on Christmas Eve, marking the 93rd anniversary of Britain’s first air disaster.

It was an Imperial Airways De Haviland similar to this aircraft which crashed in 1924

The accident happened on December 24, 1924, when an Imperial Airways de Havilland DH.34, operating a scheduled service from London to Paris, crashed at Castle Hill, less than two miles from Croydon Airport, killing the pilot and all seven passengers.

Eye-witnesses described the aircraft as flying low over Purley before it nose-dived to the ground and overturned, the aircraft exploding and becoming engulfed in flames. Attempts to rescue those on board were made, but the intensity of the fire made this impossible.

The accident was the first fatal accident suffered by Imperial Airways and led to the first public inquiry into a civil aviation accident in the United Kingdom.

Locals inspect the crash site wreckage at Christmas, 1924

As a result of issues brought up during the Public Inquiry, an Act of Parliament was passed – the Croydon Aerodrome Extension Act 1925 – leading to the construction of the new airport terminal and buildings, and the expansion of the airport, absorbing most of Beddington Aerodrome.

This year’s commemoration of the accident is being held at Kingsdown Avenue, close to the accident site, from 11.50am, with a short remembrance and wreath-laying.

The Trust, which received a significant Heritage Lottery Fund grant to assist with its work in archiving the history of the world’s first international airport, will continue to stage its monthly open days in 2018.

Open on the first Sunday of every month from 11am until 4pm (last entry at 3pm), the dates for 2018 are:

  • January 7
  • February 4
  • March 4
  • April 1
  • May 6
  • June  3
  • July 1
  • August 5
  • September 2
  • October 7
  • November 4 and
  • December 2

There maybe additional dates and events to be announced.

Tours are free, but donations towards the costs of the Society’s volunteers’ work are always very welcome.

For more on the history of the airport and the work of the society, click here.

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