Imagine if you will, a giant flat surface larger than Trafalgar Square overhanging the River Thames — this was the proposed central London Helidrome.
In May 1951, the Labour MP for Dartford, Norman Dodds, best known for defeating Margaret Thatcher at an election had another idea that could have seen his name far more widely known outside political circles.
He felt that the future of travel between cities lay in the skies, and by helicopter, which would necessitate landing sites based right in the heart of the cities across the land. One such site was considered for the south bank, and indeed, for a short while was used as such.
However, a much grander scheme was planned, which would have dominated the area — sitting above the Charing Cross railway station and reaching out over the river itself.
A report into the scheme, prepared by the London architects, Aslan and Freeman in December 1951, proposed two runways, each 300ft by 150ft, to allow helicopters to take off and land without interfering with each other.
A huge two-deck concrete slab would be erected some 100 feet above the street level, with the lower deck for maintenance services.
According to the MP, the great advantage of the elevated landing platform would have been the significant reduction in the noise heard at ground level; the landing platform was intended to be acoustically insulated and form a sound barrier.
Considering its location, above the railway bridge, and soon to be rebuilt Charing Cross station, the railway was felt to be a significant objector to the plans. However, it was still felt that a suitable international helicopter station could be built on this site within 18 months for an outlay of between £4-6 million.
The magazine, Flight Global noted at the time that “Elevated “helidromes” have been mooted for over twenty years past. But this project, unlike those that have gone before, may actually be built. ”
They added that “the time is now ripe for such a structure to be built”
Obviously, it never was. But what if it had been?
Would it still exist? A vast open expanse used for open-air concerts overlooking the River Thames? Almost makes you wish it had been built.
And Norman Dodds would be rather better known than he is today.