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Published on : Thursday, November 26, 2015
Passengers arriving at Heathrow today could be forgiven for thinking they’ve been diverted to an airport north of the border thanks to its tartan takeover, which stretches from the runway to the restaurants.
To mark St Andrew’s Day, the plethora of plaid has been specially commissioned by Heathrow to say thank you to Scotland, remember its true greats and celebrate all that Scotland has done for Heathrow.
All airports, as we experience them today, owe a huge debt to Scottish pioneers, namely McAdam (the inventor of the road surfacing material known best known as Tarmac), Watson-Watt (developer of radar), Graham-Bell (telephone inventor) and Logie-Baird (creator of the television).
So, on Scotland’s national day, Heathrow is taking the opportunity to thank those pioneers by symbolising items in Heathrow that are made in Scotland with a tartan tag. But it’s not just engineers, scientists and inventors, Scotland’s natural produce and food & drink maestros are being recognised too.
Working with Glasgow born and based textile artist and designer Jilli Blackwood, a graduate of The Glasgow School of Art, who’s most famous for creating the outfits for the Scottish team at last summer’s Commonwealth Games, the airport now has its own unique purple-hued tartan which has been used to tag Scottish exports within the airport’s walls. Inventions including ATMs, invented by John Shepherd-Barron, televisions and telephones have been covered in the bespoke plaid.
But it’s not just the airport’s fixtures and fittings that have had a Celtic makeover as even the Scottish food and drink now sports a tartan design.
Travellers visiting Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant in T5 can enjoy a set menu of smoked salmon and sourdough with a special tartan butter, followed by the traditional Scottish pudding Cranachan with a white chocolate tartan garnish, both of which have been developed by the head chef Andrew Winstanley and given a special twist with Heathrow’s new tartan.
For those looking for a little tipple before take-off, the Made in Scotland Martini served in a specially created tartan glass is bursting with Scottish ingredients including Hendrick’s gin, Drambuie and Tayside raspberries.
Talking about creating the tartan, Jilli Blackwood said: “It’s been really exciting working on this project with Heathrow. Being asked to work with the airport’s iconic colours was really quite challenging and forced me to think outside of the box. The final design is instantly recognisable to all as a tartan, yet one based on such bold and contemporary colours. It’s a brilliant symbol of Scotland and Heathrow’s relationship and has been used in some really interesting ways.”
In addition to the tartan takeover, Heathrow’s runway, which has seen approximately 770,0000 planes fly to Scotland carrying over 42m passengers has been renamed the John McAdam Runway in homage to the Scottish inventor of tarmac.
An estimated 378,000m2 of tarmac has been used across the two runways – that’s enough to fit ten and a half Edinburgh Castles. As well as being made from a Scottish invention, it is expected that a third runway at Heathrow would create up to 16,100 new skilled jobs in Scotland and deliver up to £14 billion in economic growth.
As part of the week-long celebrations, Passenger Ambassadors at Heathrow will be sporting limited edition tartan sashes and will be happy to explain to interested travellers about the Scottish takeover.
Commenting on the Made in Scotland event, Emma Gilthorpe, Strategy Director at Heathrow said:
“Scotland has always played an important role in innovation and export and it’s fair to say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the originality of some great Scots. From John Loudon McAdam, to Preston Watson and Alexander Graham Bell, Scotland is the birthplace of many revolutionary inventions and it’s these revolutionary inventions, which make Heathrow the UK’s Hub airport that it is today. From Tarmac to telephones, some could argue that, in some way, Heathrow was actually made in Scotland so we simply wanted to pay homage to the Scots by hosting a week-long celebration. Thank you Scotland.”
Backing Heathrow’s initiative, Mike Cantley, Chairman at Visit Scotland said:
“Home to ground-breaking scientists, philosophers, engineers and architects for hundreds of years, Scotland’s creative and scientific minds continue to shape the modern world we live in today. It is wonderful that Heathrow Airport is honouring John McAdam in this unique way – naming a runway is a truly fitting tribute for the man who invented Tarmac. We are sure visitors to Heathrow will be delighted to revel in the airport’s Scottish takeover, sampling the delicious food and drink and admiring the bespoke tartan on show.
“In 2016, we will be shining a special spotlight on Scotland’s achievements during the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. Hopefully many who experience the takeover at Heathrow will be inspired to make the trip north to discover more about our fascinating country – its history, landscapes, culture and fascinating pioneers.”