♫So this is Christmas♫ in the immortal words of John Lennon. Less than a week to go and this will be my final visit before the celebrations, but by the time I get to publish this, it might be all over and the festive headaches will soon turn to New Year ones. Anyway, Seasons Greetings to you all.
Heathrow T4 is at the end of the recently converted Heathrow Connect service by Tfl rail from Paddington to Heathrow that will make up part of the Elizabeth line once all the connecting tunnels and services are complete. For now it’s an independent service, and I had understood that it would have attracted a nominal fee despite having a 60+ Oyster card; but to my surprise, there was no charge – bonus day out.
Those avid followers out there will know from my earlier visit to T5 back in May that I’d tried contacting Heathrow’s Media Centre seeking their permission to photograph but received no response. I decide to try a different approach this time…
A security tale
Arriving at ‘Departures’, I spot four armed policemen patrolling the area who I approach and explain my dilemma. One of them takes up my cause and explains it’s not for them to decide as they act on the airport’s authority but by rule of thumb if someone doesn’t have a permit, they considered it unlikely. However they contacted Heathrow security who arrived in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the police check me out against the Police National Computer and to my relief they declare they have nothing on me.
Three security managers arrive and I explain my position and after liaising with their Media Centre, they tell me to complete the online form which will then be dealt with in 24 hours. Hmmm a sense of déjà vu as this is where I had started back in May. Anyway, it’s evident I won’t get permission today; and despite sharing my exasperation with the security managers who agree with me when I show I can’t find the form on their website, I accept I need to do some further digging to find it. We part company.
Time for a coffee, so I grab one at Costa and decide on my next steps. Options include go home, or as I decide, to carry on my visit without photographs. I muse and drop @Heathrow a tweet outlining my consternation, and to cut a long story short, in 10 minutes I’m given permission to take pictures…the power of social media… 🙂
There are some side anecdotes during this protracted exchange though: one policeman shows an interest in my camera as he is also a keen photographer having started life as a fine art student – but he can’t quite explain how he then diverted into the police force. Another from one of the security managers who shares a recent discussion with a traveller trying to find the right terminal at the airport only to learn his flight was a scheduled flight at Gatwick.
People on the move
Heathrow is designed to move people about, by train, by bus, by car, by taxi and by plane, but getting about within and between terminals is quite tiring. This is because of the distances between passenger access points and departure and arrival gates. Some easements have been introduced, through moving walkways and free rail connecting services between all terminals, nevertheless these are only a small comfort for those passengers trying to navigate their way around with two overly large suitcases.
Whilst contemplating earlier in Costa, I strike up a conversation with a mother awaiting the arrival of her children from the middle east and we find we have some commonality through our recent respective employments. Both of us having worked for digital organisations with similar experiences. It’s a small world.
To help with passenger flow, clear signage is essential and this is something Heathrow does well. However it does rely on one’s ability to read in English and read with comprehension. I mention this as I heard passengers on more than one occasion asking for confirmation of direction from ground staff and other passengers.
Making my way to Terminal 2, I can’t fail but be impressed by a massive hanging sculpture in the cavernous covered concourse outside the terminal. Walking around and underneath it, I try to work out what it’s representing before I stumble across a plaque explaining its title and description.
This is an impressive artwork by the renowned artist Richard Wilson which has been inspired by the world of aviation and captures the imagined flight path of a small stunt plane, and is set to be one of Britain’s most viewed public sculptures, and seen by 20 million passengers a year.
Terminals 4 and 2 are cavernous concrete buildings, but their creators have sculptured and hidden all this with creative geometric designs, shapes and glass that brings a new interest to an otherwise unloved material.
For me, the simplicity and symmetry of the roof space in Terminal 4 has an attractive quality that helps define the space. Passengers seem oblivious to the effort made to create this effect as their focus is on ensuring they are in the right zone. The roof is offset by an expanse of glass bringing the outside light in and draws the eye away from this spectacle above.
I hope you enjoy?
See all Heathrow T4 pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment
See the sidebar for a sample of Heathrow T4 pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Heathrow T4 on Wikipedia