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Fortes, London Airport, 1960
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Fortes, London Airport, 1960 Fortes, London Airport, 1960

Fortes, London Airport, 1960


Charles Forte (26 November 1908 – 28 February 2007) was a British/Italian caterer and hotelier who founded the leisure and hotels conglomerate that ultimately became Forte Group. Charles Forte, funded by his two business partners, Eric Hartwell and Sidney Hartwell set up his first "milk bar" on Regent Street in London in 1935 as Strand Milk Bar Ltd when he was 26.

Soon he began expanding into catering and hotel businesses. After the Second World War, his company became Forte Holdings Ltd, and bought The Café Royal in 1954. Forte was a major caterer at the Festival of Britain sites in 1951 and also operated the restaurants and bars at London Airport, later known as London Heathrow airport. Forte opened the first full motorway service station for cars on the M1 in Buckinghamshire at Newport Pagnell in 1960. Forte eventually became Trust House Forte and through mergers and acquisitions became a multi-billion pound business.

Courtesy Private Collection.

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