History of Gatwick
By Patrick Sharple
This page examines the history of Gatwick Airport. The BAA Gatwick Airport, located in Crawley,
West Sussex, is the second largest airport in the United Kingdom, is the 10th busiest International airport
worldwide and is the most active single-runway airport in the world. It is considered a single-runway airport,
despite having a second runway on stand-by, as the back up is only used when the airport's main runway is out of
commission. The current Gatwick, which was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II June 9, 1958, celebrated its
50th anniversary in June 2008.
The airport derives its name from the name of the manor located, until the 19th century, on the
grounds where the airport is currently positioned. The actual name "Gatwick" comes from the Anglo-Saxton words for
"goat" and "dairy farm," comprising a name meaning, literally, "goat farm."
The pier of the modern South terminal was built between 1956 and 1958 and in 1962, two other
piers were included in the design. Gatwick was the first airport to have a direct railway and was one of the
initial implementers of a pier-based, enclosed terminal, allowing users to remain mainly indoors. The piers were
extended in the 1970s and 1980s and extendible jetbridges were then included as part of the design. In September
1977, Gatwick launched its first long-haul flight JFK Airport in New York.
As the number of passengers at Gatwick increased, the terminal building acquired the addition of
a new satellite pier, which had a circular shape allowing it to connect to the main terminal by way of the United
Kingdom's automated people-moving system. (This system has since been replaced with travelators and a walkway.) In
1984, the airport's new air traffic control tower opened and Gatwick celebrated the launch of the non-stop rail
service to London Victoria. The construction on North Terminal began in 1983 and Queen Elizabeth II opened the new
terminal in 1988. The airport expanded again in 1991 with another aircraft pier.
An extension to the departure lounge in the South Terminal was completed in 2000. In 2001, the
North Terminal departure lounge extension was completed and 2005 saw the addition of an additional aircraft pier,
which added 11 additional aircraft stands, as well as a size-doubling extension and refurbishment to the baggage
reclaim hall. The newest renovations to the airport took place in May 2008, when the South Terminal departure
lounge received another extension and a security search area on the second floor opened.
Gatwick, which hosts approximately 80 airlines out if its two terminals, currently serves more
than 220 destinations. Both the North and South terminals of the airport offer customers restaurants and shopping
opportunities. Also available are play areas which include video games for young travelers and lounges to
accommodate those needing business facilities. Additionally, Gatwick offers Chaplains from the Anglican, Catholic
and Free churches and each terminal offers a counseling room and a non-denominational prayer room.
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