London's only commercial helipad has been around for over sixty years
The London Heliport in Battersea
April 14, 2021
Tucked away among some inconspicuous apartment and office buildings by the Thames in Battersea is the capital’s only licensed heliport.
You’d be forgiven for missing it completely if it wasn’t for the occasional sports car pulling up outside the entrance, and the mysterious gates that surround the landing strip.
One minute you’re next to a busy road, surrounded by the likes of the Big Yellow Self-Storage, Halfords, and Pets at Home, before you suddenly find yourself next to a large red building with the words ‘Edmiston London Heliport’ blazed across them.
Edmiston, better known for its work with superyachts, took over the title sponsorship for the heliport in August 2019.
It has been in operation since 1959, and provides a service to everyone from VIP celebrities, to international businessmen, and the emergency services to give them fast access in and out of the city.
After the closure of the City of London floating helipad at Trigg Lane in 1985, it became the only CAA licensed heliport serving the City of London.
The capital still has other heliports, such as in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, but they’re not commercial or available to the public.
The London heliport in Battersea is famously very small, with just a jetty to provide a helipad for take-off and landing and onshore parking for three to four aircraft.
Over the years it has been owned by the likes of Westland and Harrods and in 2012 was bought by famous businessmen, the Reuben Brothers, for £35 million.
The heliport had an exemption from the no-fly zone during the London Olympics, allowing dignitaries and other VIPs to use it to get to the games.
However, in 2013, a helicopter diverting there due to bad weather conditions collided with a construction crane and crashed into a street in Vauxhall killing the pilot and one person on the ground, prompting calls for more scrutiny on the amount of air traffic in the capital.
An inquest into the deaths in 2015 found the pilot’s decision to fly in the conditions was unsafe, but may have been partly due to commercial pressure involving a significant client.
Today the heliport remains one of the ideal launch pads for celebs and heads of state in central London, with transfers available to Gatwick and Heathrow airports in just 15-20 minutes, and is even available to sightseers.
Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter