There was a time when it was thought the sky over Southampton would be thick with helicopters taking off and landing near the city centre.

In the late 1960s, when Southampton opened its heliport to an air of optimism, many envisaged it would set the city firmly on the map as the meeting place for high-powered company executives.

For five years it did just that, until the ambitious venture, which was years ahead of its time, ran into financial difficulties and was grounded.

As far back as 1948, plans were being drawn up for a helicopter terminal in the city, which would have been the first of its kind in the country.

Four sites were inspected, including a recreation ground close to the Royal Pier and an area near the King George V dry dock. A suggestion was even made to have two moored platforms out in Southampton Water.

During those times, Southampton planners were convinced that helicopter travel was the transport of the future and they envisaged regular services linking towns and cities across the country and even the Channel ports of France.

Daily Echo: Southampton heliport.

In the humble beginnings, the heliport consisted of a landing pad and a windsock, and whenever a helicopter wanted to touch down special arrangements had to be made, including the provisions of firefighting equipment.

The heliport didn’t take off until 1967, when Chandler’s Ford-based company Twyford Moors Helicopters Ltd submitted a £15,000 proposal to operate a charter and executive travel service from the site.

In the years that followed, the land was cleared and flattened and terminal facilities, including a hangar, offices and passenger accommodation, were erected.

Daily Echo: Southampton heliport.

By 1969, Southampton heliport had become a reality.

Lord Mountbatten flew in from his Broadlands home in Romsey to West Quay Road and officially opened the site.

With location being paramount, Southampton’s heliport was extremely well-sited near to the docks, the city centre and the city’s industrial sites, with many of the guest present at the opening predicting great success for the city’s new venture.

Daily Echo: Southampton heliport.

Mountbatten himself believed that the heliport would surely become a catalyst for the development of further heliports across the country.

In the following years, the heliport indeed proved successful. By 1973 Twyford Moors Helicopters, the company that ran the heliport, reported a peak number of aircraft movements had taken place in the previous year.

That same year saw 1,688 take-offs and landings by visiting helicopters at the site – and that was without counting the several daily flights already being operated in and out of the heliport by Twyford Moors own helicopters.

Daily Echo: Southampton heliport.

Users of the heliport included executives of large companies, television companies filming large sporting events or rushing video-tape back to the studios and at least one visit from the Queen’s Flight Wessex Helicopter.

However, by 1975 the heliport faced liquidation and eventually the 15-acre site became part of today’s city industrial estate.