British Airways Launches Online Centenary Archive

British Airways has launched a new online archive of photos and videos to mark its centenary year.

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Her Majesty The Queen, Concorde, 1977
Her Majesty The Queen, Concorde, 1977 (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has long maintained a “heritage collection” of archive materials and photographs from its near 100 year history.

This is based at its Head Office near Heathrow. It has also been online, though much of the photographs were scanned for uploading in an era when websites had to accommodate much slower internet connections.

As part of its centenary BA has launched a new dedicated archive microsite with many newly released images, videos and features on its history.

It covers many aspects of BA’s history, including staff uniforms and deliveries of new aircraft. There are also many videos including the launch of the turn-up-and-go domestic Shuttle Service from London to Glasgow in 1975 and the groundbreaking “World’s Biggest Offer”marketing campaign in 1991.

On the subject of advertising, please see here for our own history of BA advertising over four decades.

BA has also issued newly released photos of Her Majesty The Queen, who visited BA’s Head Office earlier this week, with British Airways aircraft.

Her Majesty The Queen, Malta
Her Majesty The Queen, Malta (Image Credit: British Airways)

The Queen has a long history with BA and its predecessor airlines.

On 31 January 1952, The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, bid farewell to King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at London airport before departing on a BOAC aircraft with Prince Philip for a world tour of Africa, Australia and New Zealand. This was cut short following the death of King George VI and Princess Elizabeth returned a week later from Kenya on a BOAC Argonaut as Queen Elizabeth II.

BEA, BOAC and BA have flown The Queen on many state visits and tours. These include the 1953 Commonwealth tour, Canada and the US in 1957 (on a BOAC DC-7C aircraft), Bermuda and Jamaica 1963 (on a BOAC Stratocruiser), New Zealand in 1974, the Commonwealth Silver Jubilee tour 1977 (on Concorde), the Middle East in 1979 (on Concorde), and Australia 2011 (non-stop from London to Perth on a Boeing 777). The Queen also officially opened London Heathrow Terminals 1 and 5 and Gatwick’s North Terminal.

Back to the archive itself, the history of BA obviously depends on who is telling it.

Understandably, there are some events not touched on, such as aircraft incidents and BOAC and BA being caught up in major geopolitical events such as the 1970 Dawson’s Field hijackings and 1990 Gulf War. Nor are corporate controversies. However, there are subjects barely mentioned, such as the Newell and Sorrell redesign of BA’s corporate identity of 1997, controversial at the time, but now worthy of reappraisal.

We welcome any thoughts and comments below: