Tag Archives: num:ScienceMuseum=1980-1912

Heathrow coach-link, fifties-style

Ah, the half-term holidays. It was great to see so many visitors to the Science Museum last week – hope you had a good time!

Others may perhaps have jetted away with the kids for a relaxing overseas break. Did you use Heathrow Airport? These days there are several ways to get there: car, taxi, train, Tube or coach. But for many travellers back in the 1950s, coach was the only option:

AEC Regal IV airline coach, 1953 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

AEC Regal IV airline coach, 1953 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

That’s our AEC ‘Regal IV’ airline coach from 1953. Isn’t it just a peach? British European Airways (BEA) ran a fleet of 65 of these one-and-a-half-deck coaches in the 1950s to whisk travellers between the ‘West London Air Terminal’ (in Cromwell Road, not far from the Science Museum) and the airport.

The special body was designed by London Transport and featured a raised passenger deck over a large luggage compartment. They seated 37 people, and although owned by BEA, they were operated on their behalf by London Transport.

These coaches were still carrying passengers well into the 1960s, by which time BEA’s fleet included Hawker Siddeley ‘Trident’ aircraft. We have one in our aviation collection - more on that later. In the meantime, I’d love to hear comments from anyone who remembers using these Heathrow transfer coaches or the West London Air Terminal…