John Major considered renaming Heathrow Airport after Sir Winston Churchill, confidential papers from the 1990s reveal.
The then Prime Minister believed the idea of making Britain’s biggest airport a memorial to the Second World War leader was “intriguing”.
The Tory leader asked senior Whitehall aides to explore the proposal after London businessman Harvey Spack suggested Sir Winston Churchill Airport was better than “stupid” Heathrow.
The premier’s reply to Mr Spack said: “Thank you for your letter of 5 September and for your intriguing idea about renaming Heathrow airport after Sir Winston Churchill.
“I am looking into this, and I am grateful to you for raising it.”
The businessman had written to Mr Major in September 1996 during the dying days of the PM’s seven-year-premiership.
Mr Spack said: “This is an old hobby horse of mine, but I think it is appropriate timing for you to take such an act and I think would be superb PR.
“New York has Kennedy Airport, Paris has De Gaulle and we have the stupid name of Heathrow!
“It should be renamed with the name of the greatest man of the century, who has no truly great memorial in our country, the Winston Churchill Airport or Churchill Airport.”
He added: “I can only see this as a tremendous boost to the ‘feel food factor’ for all of us.”
He addresses the Prime Minister “Dear John” and asks about a recent holiday in France he took with wife Norma, saying he heard it was “amazing”.
The businessman said his idea came while reading the book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which was made into a 2001 film starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz.
When a tiny Greek island is invaded during the war by the Italians, the Nazis, then the Communists, the islanders turn to the – mispronounced – British PM.
Mr Spack wrote: “Throughout all this, the people remain brave and keep looking to the heavens to for salvation by ‘Wiston Churchill’.
“The book is both funny and tragic and I thoroughly recommend it to you – but I hope you don’t have time to read it.”
Mr Major’s instructions to Transport Secretary Brian Mawhinney, through No 10’s principal private secretary Alex Allan, are among papers published today(TUES) by the National Archives, Kew.
Mr Allan sent the letter to Bronwyn Hill, his opposite number at the Department for Transport, asking her to examine whether they could take the proposal further.
“The Prime Minister would be grateful for your Secretary of State’s initial and personal views on the idea,” he said.
“Both on the merits and practicalities and also on how this might be floated if it seemed worth pursuing. “
However, the plan flopped and the airport remains named after the tiny Middlesex hamlet which was demolished for its construction in 1944.
Proposals to honour Sir Winston by naming London’s flagship £16 billion Crossrail project after him also failed – overruled by then London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Labour peer Lord Adonis, a former Transport Secretary, proposed the name as a “great figure who saved London”.
But Mr Johnson instead opted for the Elizabeth Line after the Queen.