diamond geezer

 Friday, December 02, 2022

While on the bus to Romford I spotted a helipad in a park.
That's unusual, I thought.
So I got off to have a look.



It wasn't entirely out of place because it was immediately alongside Queens Hospital and big hospitals often have helipads. But it did seem unusual that it was unfenced in a public park with a footpath close by, indeed so close that the path needs yellow warning signs at each end. Most of the time this is a patch of green where you could linger for a smoke or a picnic, and just occasionally it morphs into a helicopter landing area subject to extreme high wind and noise (BHR, NHS and helicopter operator are not responsible for any property damage or personal injury sustained within 50 metres).



n.b. A fence with a locked gate runs between the helipad and the hospital service area, with a tarmac strip connecting the two, so NHS staff are better protected from the blast than the general public.
n.b. Oldchurch Park used to be much larger until Queens Hospital was built in the middle of it in the 2000s, and now all that's left is a C-shaped remnant of grass threaded through by a lacklustre footpath.
n.b. The vegetation surrounding the helipad isn't all grass, it's mostly low plant cover which is enough to deter most people from straying off the path, but really no protection whatsoever.


Romford's Queens Hospital helipad is only ever in operation for a tiny amount of time, air ambulances permitting, which I guess is why it can afford to be an integral part of a public park. But it started me wondering whether this open access helipad is perhaps unique within Greater London. And more importantly it made me ask the question...

Where are London's helipads?



a) The obvious place to start is the London Heliport, the capital's premier helicopter launchpad. It's on the south bank of the Thames in Battersea and opened in 1959. The riverside location is important because all landings and takeoffs take place on a jetty, with an adjacent apron allowing up to three craft to rest their rotors. Public transport nearby is fairly poor but that's OK because helicopter users tend to be taxi types, or more likely limo users, indeed the heliport is the only London transport hub to be sponsored by a luxury yacht management company.



For those walking the Thames Path the heliport is a fortified obstruction to onward progress, though thankfully only brief. It's screened behind a strengthened fence to reduce blowback, and emblazoned with signs warning of Helicopter Down Wash, Laser Hazard and Drone Flying Strictly Prohibited. A control tower keeps an eye on things, an anemometer and a wind sock provide crucial information for pilots and a team of mechanics are on standby to provide fuel, service knowhow and quite possibly a supply of lemon-soaked paper napkins. The contrast to Romford's untended circle is stark.
Ⓗ London Heliport, Battersea
b) Several other London hospitals have helipads, notably those with a link to the air ambulance service. The most famous of these is the Royal London in Whitechapel where the helipad is on the roof, originally a few storeys up but now high atop the 17th floor where the entire neighbourhood can watch comings and goings. From here everywhere inside the M25 is reachable with 15 minutes, and the service treated over 1700 patients last year. A second helipad opened on the roof of St George's Hospital in Tooting in 2014, which is of particular use when county air ambulances need to deliver patients to a London Trauma Centre.



Other London hospitals with a helipad include Queens in Romford, obviously, and King's College Hospital at Denmark Hill where a facility opened on the roof of the 10-storey Ruskin Wing in October 2016. Then there's Harefield Hospital where hearts for transplant need to be able to fly in asap. Its helipad lies within a patch of grass beyond the car park, watched over by a line of benches that are perfectly safe to sit on at least 99% of the time. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital used to have a lowly helipad but that's recently been removed to make way for more operating theatres. Helicopters do sometimes land near health centres on land not marked with an H, but I believe the number of hospital helipads in London is just five.
Ⓗ Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel
Ⓗ St George's Hospital, Tooting
Ⓗ King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill
Ⓗ Queen's Hospital, Romford
Ⓗ Harefield Hospital, Hillingdon
c) Some airfields have helipads, though none that the public can casually wander onto. Heathrow has one helipad to the south of the main runways. RAF Northolt has two, being the favoured spot for politicians and royalty to launch themselves across the kingdom, and is also where London's air ambulances are stabled when they're not on call. Biggin Hill's helipad, used to chopper the elite to central London in six minutes flat, is a frankly disappointing letter H in the centre of a taxiway. London City Airport has nothing.
Ⓗ Heathrow Airport
ⒽⒽ RAF Northolt
Ⓗ Biggin Hill
d) Other heliports are available. The Vanguard heliport on the western edge of the Isle of Dogs has been operational since 1980 and is sometimes used by private clients trying to access East London direct. It's hidden behind a self-storage centre and only visible from across the river, and creates an annoying diversion in the Thames Path. Then there's the deceptively-named London Docklands Heliport which appears to be located on the bleakest edge of the Ford Motor Works site in Dagenham. I've had to look at a lot of aerial views while trying to compose this list, it's not an easy topic to research.
Ⓗ Vanguard Heliport, Isle of Dogs
Ⓗ London Docklands Heliport, Dagenham
e) I thought a good way to properly enumerate London's helipads would be to check OpenStreetMap and count all the times the helipad symbol is used. The key tag is "aeroway=helipad", and brilliantly there's a script you can run that highlights every occurrence on the map. It generated this view of London and the surrounding counties.



The map includes all the heliports I've previously mentioned and also several interesting additions. Harrods has a helipad to help really rich shoppers spend their money with ease. Regents Park Barracks has a helipad to launch SAS missions a little quicker, amongst other army activities. The swanky West Lodge Park hotel on Cockfosters Road has a helipad on its lawn. The industrial estate at Coldharbour Point downstream of Rainham includes an old painted H which you might have walked past on the last section of the London Loop. And a grass helipad exists in the lower reaches of Alexandra Park below Alexandra Palace, which is much lowlier but more accessible than the helipad in Romford.
Ⓗ Harrods, Knightsbridge
Ⓗ Regents Park Barracks, Camden
Ⓗ West Lodge Park, Enfield
Ⓗ Coldharbour Point, Rainham
Ⓗ Alexandra Park, Haringey
n.b. Helipads just beyond the Greater London boundary include the Uxbridge Business Centre, Pinewood Studios, Elstree Aerodrome, Sandown Racecourse, the Met's police helicopter base at Lippits Hill and of course Windsor Castle, but they don't count. Neither do historic helipads like the Waterloo Air Terminal from the 1950s, the Millennium Dome's former launchpad or the site they've since built over at Whipps Cross Hospital, because they're not current.

Assuming OpenStreetMap is correct then that should be the full list of London's helipads, but there's no reason why it definitely is so you may know better. If there's a private helipad on the roof of your penthouse flat or an H scrawled across the far end of your local car park do let us know. But if you'd like to stand on a London helipad, taking into account due regard for health and safety, then Romford's peculiar hospital outlier appears to be your best bet.

4pm update: Buckingham Palace has a (deliberately unobtrusive) helipad in the back garden marked out by two different types of grass. The RAF Museum at Colindale supposedly has a helipad on a triangle of grass to the west of the main building, but I can't spot it. The Heathrow Crowne Plaza hotel beside M4 J4 has a helipad tucked into the corner of the neighbouring golf course.

        Ⓗ Buckingham Palace
        Ⓗ Crowne Plaza, Heathrow


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
our bow
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv