History of the Visitor’s centre

The Airport officially opened on 29th January 1930 with completion of the Control Tower, the first in the UK, and a large Hangar, originally designed to house the most advanced passenger aircraft of the day, the Imperial Airways Argosy. The airport became the first municipal airfield in the UK outside London and the first to be licensed by the Air Ministry.

The control tower and associated wireless station were completed in spring 1933, the first of it’s kind. The Tower is still operational and is believed to be the oldest in Europe, to be still used for its original purpose, being able to communicate with aircraft in flight and give pilots bearings from the airfield.

Despite a lot of events that have happened here, the layout of City Airport has changed little and is considered to be a good example of what an airfield would of looked like during the 1930s. There are several historical items of note at Barton; contain within our small museum in the tower which displays documents from the history of the original Manchester Airport as well as the origins of the actual Manchester Airport. Many foundations such as the Bomber Command Association and Lancashire Areo Club have displays at the Barton Visitor Centre.

The control tower is protected by its grade II listed building status, along with the original terminal building and hangar. The distinctive control tower often features in prominent programmes and films, The airfield as well is regularly used setting of films and TV programmes such Brass, Mersey Beat, GBH and Island at War.

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