Above: View from near Wandsworth Bridge of a helicopter about to land at the London Heliport.
London Heliport is London’s only licensed heliport. It might come as quite a surprise that a vast metropolis like London does not have more heliports but this is the only one. Over the years since the Second World War, there have been several attempts to set up heliports in London but none of them were successful – mainly because of the noise nuisance from the helicopters. After the Festival of Britain ended, in late 1951, part of the site was used for helicopters. When the OXO Building was still owned by Dewhurst, the butchers, Mr Dewhurst used to land his personal helicopter on a helipad set up to float on the Thames outside the building. Another attempt was made to set up a heliport on the Thames just downriver from Blackfriars Railway Bridge in the hope of attracting usage by businessmen visiting the City of London. The base of the floating heliport was formed from an old floating dock-crane. All the bright ideas came and went and only the heliport at Battersea is still in business.
Above: The old jetty, now in use by the London Heliport, with Battersea Railway Bridge in the distance.
London Heliport, also called Battersea Heliport, is known officially as the NetJets London Heliport for sponsorship reasons,. The facility, which was built by W & C French and opened in 1959, is located in Battersea on the south bank of the River Thames. It uses an old jetty which is situated a short distance south of Battersea Railway Bridge. The heliport, once owned by Westland and then Harrods, is a very small site, making use of a jetty to provide a helipad for take-off and landing as well as onshore parking for three to four helicopters, depending on their size. The reason for the site being beside the Thames is because commercial helicopters – unlike those used by the Police and HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) – are required to fly at 1,000 feet (305 m), following the line of the Thames. This is for safety reasons, should a helicopter crash, but mainly to limits the noise nuisance on adjacent buildings in built-up areas. Ground running of rotors at the heliport is restricted to a maximum of five minutes for the same reason.
In 2003 London Heliport was acquired by Weston Homes. In 2012 it was bought by the Reuben Brothers, who also own Oxford Airport. In 2016, the heliport’s official name became the NetJets London Heliport after the private jet company signed a branding deal with the owners. The site of the heliport can only be seen easily from the riverside walkway in Fulham.
The only helipad within the Metropolitan London area, it is used for commercial flights to locations including the City of London and Heathrow Airport. The helipad is also used by police helicopters and private air taxis.