Colin Barnsley-oval.png

By Colin Barnsley

Mantlepiece Clock-small.jpg

First Published 14/6/2021
Last Updated 14/1/2022

 

There's no doubt, living by an international gateway of Manchester Airport's scale benefits Heald Green - jobs, travel opportunities and celebrity visitors.  But as it's grown, we've lost roof tiles, sleep, peace and quiet - and experienced tragedies, too.
 

History     Work and Leisure      Noise     Tragedy     Celebrity     Top
 

Watching Planes 1960s c MEN small.jpg

Early History and Wartime

Fig. 1 Watching the planes, 1960s
© Manchester Evening News
Click Image to View
 

 

Back in 1928, Barton Aerodrome was chosen for Manchester's aerodrome, and it opened in 1930.  However, when discussions opened with KLM on a Holland to North of England service, Barton was considered unsuitable for larger aircraft, and the necessary improvements would be prohibitively expensive. As a result, land south of Manchester, was ear-marked for a new airport 
 

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They chose the site for the airport because it was larger than others, and also because clay makes a better surface to compact for a runway; being dense it doesn't absorb water the same.
- Ian Morris, 2021

The 1881 tithe map shows the countryside, farms and village that were gradually  built over to make way for Ringway (named after the parish it was in)  .  Click to find out more on how the village of Heyhead has disappeared beneath the airport buildings.
 

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Mcr Aiport 1881 Map - watermarked.jpg

Fig. 2 Tithe Map 1881 v 2020, comparing location of Manchester Airport
© ARCHI Information Systems Ltd 2020
Click Image to View, or the copyright notice to compare maps
 

Ringway opening Programme Cover 1938 watermarked.jpg

Fig. 3 Ringway Opening, 1938
© Frank Mitchell / St. James Church
Click On Image To View
 

“Of the airport, my first flight was with my father on the last flight of the opening day but my mother and sister would not come. It was in an open cockpit and cost 2/6p each for the short trip. Before then I used to be able to cycle to Ringway on a country lane with farms and fields on either side to see my grandparents.  Those days will never return but I still would not like to live anywhere else.
- Emily Watson, Linkline Memories, p15, published 2013


Manchester Airport officially opened on 25th June 1938, with a public air display that included civil and RAF aircraft. On 27 June it handled its first scheduled flight, a KLM operated Douglas DC-2 to Amsterdam   . 
 

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Manchester Airport 1938 MEN - watermarke

Fig. 4 Ringway From Above, 1938
© Manchester Evening News
Click On Image To View

 

Many people do not know that all the land around, right up to Long Lane was at one time part of the Tatton Estate and that is why we have the Tatton Arms on Ringway Road.
- Elsie Williams, Linkline Memories, p14, 2013

Ringway 16th July 1938  Mark Williams MR

Fig. 4 The Buildings at Ringway, 1938
© Mark Williams, from Manchester
(Ringway)/Woodford Memories FB page

Click On Image To View
 

Entrance and BEA Reception Desk 1938 MAR

Fig. 5 BEA Entrance and Reception Desk 1938
© Manchester Airport Ringway Remembered
Click On Image To View
 

In just over a year, the country was at war. Domestic flights  ceased, and the airport became an aircraft manufacturing centre through companies like Fairey Aviation and Avro.  During WWII, Ringway trained over 60,000 parachutists   .

The immediate impact for Heald Green was in the billeting of servicemen and women in homes, and a little later, the construction of various Maintenance Units in the area for use as barracks, munitions stores and hospitals. Joan Heinekey's book
Heald Green In Wartime details some of the local impact of wartime and the airport   .

 

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“Eric [Elsie's husband] was not called up to the armed services because of his qualifications and was instead seconded to the Fairey Aviation Works at Ringway as head of the Inspection Department. The fighter planes, having been built at the Stockport factory, came to the airport for the final testing before moving into service. Eric was responsible for the final inspection of the electrical components of the aircraft, sometimes going up on a test flight.”
- Elsie Williams, Linkline Memories, p14, 2013

“My father-in-law (who was from Liverpool) was based at Ringway for some of the War. He taught the para's how to do the parachute jumps. They would take off and jump to land in Tatton Park."
- Laura Stokey, Facebook, 2021

Packing Parachutes 1940 watermarked.jpg
Trainee Paratroopers 1940 watermarked.jp

Fig. 6 Packing Parachutes 1940
© Frank Mitchell / St. James Church
Click On Image To View
 

“When the paratroopers arrived they were all Polish. One day when the paratroopers were practising a descent with their parachutes, one parachute became stuck in the plane and the plane flew to Tatton Park to try and release it and he could fall onto the soft ground. Unfortunately, this didn’t work and the plane came back to Ringway and landed, bouncing the man on the ground. Sadly he died.”
- Gladys Short, Linkline Memories, p16

“...soon...  buildings and runways [were] erected over an enormous area, which was surrounded by a security fence that had huge gates with tall towers at the entrance and with armed guards inside and the fencing patrolled by armed airmen. The planes grew rapidly in size. During the war, parachute troops would come for six weeks training and then ack-ack guns were installed which shook all the surrounding houses when fired. Planes would come in so low over Heald Green that we children could wave to the pilots and often they would wave back. All the younger boys became keen plane spotters and experts at identifying different types, with the help of cigarette cards (from packets of cigarette), which were avidly collected.

"61 MU was a maintenance unit for the RAF in this area with Nissen Huts all over fields in Outwood Road, Cross Road and Wilmslow Road. This brought an influx of many RAF personnel which were billeted with local families. Two of these lads later joined Brown Lane Youth Club and ended up marrying girls that they had met there. ”

- Anne Rushton, Linkline Memories p15, 2014

Avro Lancasters being assembled Woodford

Fig. 7 Avro Lancasters being assembled at Woodford, 1943
© Classic Wings Magazine
Click On Image To View
 

History     Work and Leisure      Noise     Tragedy     Celebrity     Top
 

 

Work and Leisure

​The history of Manchester Airport can be summed up in one word :  growth.  Much has been gained (chiefly jobs and the benefits access to transport links brings), but at the expense of free space, air quality, noise pollution and traffic congestion.

 

There are so many great books written about Manchester Airport, types of freight and passenger planes and so on, that it is pointless to reproduce too much here.  I've listed pertinent events from Wikipedia's excellent History of Manchester Airport, to help explain the impact on Heald Green and surroundings in context. You can of course look to Manchester Airport's own history pages. As this is a long page I've included in-page section links to help you navigate.

1950s & 60s

  • 1957: 613 Squadron (and all other Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons) were disbanded and facilities handed over to civilian operation. Passengers and their luggage began to be weighed on Avery scales in the Traffic Hall (departure lounge)

  • 1958: The airport handled 500,000 passengers annually. A main runway extension permitted regular non-stop scheduled flights to North America. For about 6 to 12 months after this, the A538 road ran across the runway with gates or traffic lights like a level crossing, and was shut whenever an aeroplane crossed it - until a new route for the A538 was built.

  • 1958: T1 construction started ; Late 1962: Terminal 1, the airport's first purpose-built post-war terminal, was opened   .

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RAAF No613 Squadron 1957 MAR small.jpg

Fig. 8 RAAF No. 613 Squadron, shortly before disbanding. This, the dismantling of 61 MU buildings and subsequent sale of Ministry of Defence land, precipitated the second period of rapid growth through house-building, for Heald Green 
© Manchester Airport Ringway Remembered
Click On Image To View

“I remember when we used to cycle up to the airport in the fifties as children, when all that was between us and the planes was a wire fence.
- Ann Park, Facebook, 2021

Aer Lingus Wayfarer 1952 unloading bales

Fig. 9 The distinctive freight transport of an Aer Lingus Wayfarer, unloading bales of cloth, 1957
© Manchester Airport Ringway Remembered
Click On Image To View
 

Helen Morgan's Dad Ray Dowthwaite Airpor

Fig. 11 Helen Morgan's Dad, Ray Dowthwaite, sat on the very basic airport perimeter fence
© Helen Morgan
Click On Image To View

 

MoT CAIS Briefing Hut c 1960 c MAR small

Fig. 13 Ministry of Transport Civil Aviation Information Services Briefing Hut on the edge of the airport apron, 1960s
© Manchester Airport Ringway Remembered
Click On Image To View
 

Duke of Edinburgh opens terminal 1962 ME

Fig. 10 The Duke of Edinburgh opens the new Terminal 1 building, 1962.  The fantastic Venetian chandeliers are sadly, no longer there - but one was re-housed in
World Of Glass, St Helens

© Manchester Evening News
Click On Image To View
 

Helen Morgan's Mum Brenda Dowthwaite in

Fig. 12 Helen Morgan's Mum, Brenda Dowthwaite, wearing her BEA ground hostess uniform 1967
© Helen Morgan
Click On Image To View

 

Office in Hut overlooking apron, AIS Bri

Fig. 14 Office in hut overlooking apron, AIS Briefing Hut and small Marshaller's Hut, 1960s
© Manchester Airport Ringway Remembered

Click On Image To View
 

“This is... a photo [on the right] taken in the early 60’s of the BEA Load Control office also known as Ships’ Papers which, as the name implies, was responsible for producing the weight and balance chart for each departing aircraft. I know several of the people in the photo as I worked for BEA from May 1959 for 43 years. I started next door in Apron Control, responsible for co-ordinating Apron Operations. Flight Operations was in the hut next door and they controlled the aircraft and Flight Crew. I joined Flight Ops in 1961 after we moved to the new Tower Block."
- Geoff Morris, Facebook, 2021

“My mother Brenda Dowthwaite was always upset when she had to meet unaccompanied minors from a flight [when she worked for BEA as a ground hostess]. There would always be one left and eventually a distant relative would turn up and would claim the unfortunate child just by looking at the tag pinned to them...safeguarding today would never allow it."
- Helen Morgan, Facebook, 2021

Michael Richardson's Mum worked at Airpo

Fig. 15 Michael Richardson's
Mum worked at the Airport Enquiry Desk, 1960s
© M. Richardson

Click On Image To View
 

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1970s & 80s

  • 1968: Construction started on the M56 motorway, and it opened to Manchester Airport in 1972. 

  • 1974: A Local Government Review placed the airport entirely within the city of Manchester boundaries in the new metropolitan Greater Manchester area. However, due to constant expansion of the airport it had expanded back into Cheshire by the early 1980s. The second runway is almost entirely in Cheshire.

  • 1975: The airport decided to drop the name "Ringway" and renamed the airport "Manchester International Airport" 

  • 1982: Opening of main runway extension to its current length of 10,000 ft (3,000 m)[22] to attract long-haul flights from worldwide destinations. The A538 road from Altrincham to Wilmslow had to be diverted further south to a tunnel under the runway; the cut ends of its old course became airport back gates. This extension work (and building Runway Two later) needed heavy earthworks in the Bollin river valley, as the flat area around the original Ringway is much smaller than the flat area around Heathrow near London. This road diversion ran south of the locally well-known Oversleyford Brickworks, which was south of the original course of the A538 road. (The brickworks later closed and was demolished and its site fell down to wild vegetation and became an unofficial motorcycle scrambling ground. Land to the north of it to the west of Altrincham Road (Styal) became an unofficial planespotting area.)

  • 1980s: The northwest side of Altrincham Road (Styal) was lined with a high embankment with dense trees planted on, to prevent aircraft spotting, due to a fear of use by terrorists' lookout men. (The remaining part of Altrincham Road (Styal) runs west from Hollin Lane (B5166 road) into the Styal area.)

  • 1989: Terminal 1A Domestic (later renamed Terminal 3) was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales   .

 

Of course, with the coming of the package holiday a great many of us began to enjoy holidays abroad - though sharing holiday snaps is beyond the remit of a history website!  A common hobby nearer to home though, and aided by an increased variety of incoming international flights, was plane-spotting.  Try a video tour of the airport and viewing piers from 1985.

“I remember cycling to the airport in the 1970s and going on the piers for about 10p. I don't think we had a lock for our bikes but they were always there at the end of the day. Standing on the pier directly in front of a plane engine warming up is quite an experience. And the smell of the jet fuel!
- Colin Barnsley, Facebook 2021

“I can remember having days out at the airport on top of those piers, long before security fears and terrorism."
- Helen Morgan, Facebook 2021

“I remember going to watch the planes... before the security changes [to easily available radio receivers and frequencies of broadcast phased out in the 1970s] with a radio tuned to the pilot's channel."
- Gill Rice, Facebook 2021

Building for T1 in 1971 c MIA small.jpg
Atlasair Office Chris Hall Tony Steve 19

Fig. 16 Chris Hall, Tony Kelly and Steve Andersen worked for Atlasair in the same original huts by the apron shown earlier, in 1979
© C. Hall

Click On Image To View
 

Airport Piers 1970s c MEN - small.jpg

Fig. 17 Viewing area on top of the airport piers in 1970s. The pier closed 1984, due to security & terrorism concerns
© Manchester Evening News
Click On Image To View

 

Check In Hall 1985 c Simon Jones - small

Fig. 17 Check-in desks, 1985
© S. Jones

Click On Image To View
 

Control Tower from Piers 1985 c Simon Jo

Fig. 18 New Control Tower 1985
Picture and Video © S. Jones

Click on Image To Watch a Video Tour of the Airport
 

​​1990s onwards

  • Early 1990s: The western longterm car parking area was made or greatly enlarged, and aircraft standing area was enlarged, obliterating Etrop Green Farm (which was demolished in 1989) and its road-junction and trees and pond, and Fields Farm. Runger Lane was extended northwards to bypass this car park area and join Thorley Lane, which was rerouted to the north. A brick barn of Etrop Green Farm survived for a time fenced off among the car parking. The east end of this car parking area obliterated Woodhouse Farm.

  • Early 1990s: Car parking was much expanded eastwards across Shadow Moss, and obliterated Heyhead (a group of old houses and a shop and a chapel) despite a protest group. Two old cottages were left on the north side of the west end of the old Ringway Road due to preservation orders, but they have now disappeared.

  • 1992: An official Aviation Viewing Park, replacing the unofficial Oversleyford plane-spotting area.

  • 1993: Terminal 2 opened.

  • 1997: Planning permission was granted on 15 January for Manchester's "Runway Two", now Runway 23L/05R (the fourth runway to be constructed on the airport site) and work started the same year. The resulting intrusion onto woodland in the Styal area caused public reaction and protest camps. The new runway had to be embanked over the A538 road, which now runs through tunnels under both runways; this needed heavy earthworks, and a temporary railway was built into the southern edge of the airport to carry trains with limestone aggregates from Derbyshire. It obliterated the Oversleyford Brickworks site, which had become a wildlife area. It cut Altrincham Road (Styal) and obliterated farms in the Oversleyford area, and as a result traffic that used that road now must go a long way round through the centre of Wilmslow; the lost section has been replaced by a path along the Bollin river valley passable by pedal cycle or horse but not with a powered vehicle. The cut ends of this road are now airport back gates. The river Bollin goes through a culvert under the new runway. During this construction there were important prehistoric finds at Oversley Farm (which is now under Runway Two)

  • 2001: Runway Two opened at a cost of £172 million and was the first full-length commercial runway to open in the UK for over 20 years.

  • 2004: The airport reached 20 million passengers a year.

  • 2004: The new £60 million integrated public transport interchange was opened

  • 2011: The airport took over Cloughbank Farm (between the aviation viewing area and the Ringway chapel crossroads) and began using it as a work yard to repair and upgrade Runway 1 and its runway lighting.

  • 2011: Work started on building an airport terminus for the Manchester Metrolink within the station  .

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“I lived the other side [of the airport] as a kid, in Mobberley. I played football on our street with Swampy [environmentalist and runway protestor] and co as our neighbour used to let them have showers at hers."
- Katherine Dale, Facebook 2021

T2 nears completion 1991 MA Archive via

Fig. 19 Terminal 2 Nears Completion, 1991
© Manchester Airport Image Archive

Click on Image To View
 

 

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Noise : The Fight for Parity and Compensation

This is a decibel meter.  It measures how loud sounds are. One week in the summer holidays in the 1970s, my father asked me to sit with it in the garden all day; not my favourite thing to do, sitting still. I was to record how loud the planes were taking off. 

The wind tends to blow the "other way" in the summer, so more holiday planes were coming right over us.  Either pilots unused to Manchester and unfamiliar with the agreed flight paths, or ignoring the rules to save fuel.  Either way, they were extra noisy in the 1970s.

I have no idea where or why my father got the meter.  I have no idea what he did with the results.  All I know is, the planes were very loud - but we never got a noise insulation grant. 

 

Decibel Meter 1970s.JPG

Fig. 20 1970s decibel meter
Click on Image To View
 

Of all the topics covered in our Ratepayer's Contact Magazine, articles on airport noise recur almost without fail.  It was frustrating to read it all ; how must it have been for our councillors over the years? London airport was Ministry owned and had a legal limit on aircraft noise ; Manchester was municipally owned and did not   . Since issues were first raised in the mid 1960s, and in spite of constant pressure on the airport and government ever since, parity on these aspects has never been achieved.

The Ratepayers' always felt that as, like our homes, the airport was here to stay and brought benefits in terms of jobs, we should look to amicable solutions to its controlled expansion, to the advantage of both parties. To my mind, the airport seemed to do as it pleased.

 

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The issue was first raised at a Public Meeting in June 1966. "There seems little doubt that pilots are flaunting rules about heights and glide angles and the allowable noise level is being exceeded frequently." Something had to be done   . 

In Summer 1967, the decision of the Valuation Officer to lower the Rateable Value of noise-affected homes by 5% was
challenged   .  In the Autumn, Ron Stenson handed a petition signed by over 800 residents to Dr. Michael Winstanley, MP who felt most MP's were sympathetic to the national legislation required to reduce aircraft noise   .

By October 1968, The Civil Aviation Bill had had its final reading.  Designated airports (which was still tbd) would have to consult on noise levels, planning, flight schedules, expansion, facilities etc   . Autumn 1969 Contact reports that, on a 20-strong consultative committee proposed, there was no representative for Heald Green!     

 

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It took until Feb 1972 for Manchester Airport to publish a proposal on flight paths and noise reduction in the Contact Magazine   . The same edition reported proposed night flight reductions for 1973 & 1974; Summer 1972 that new noise grants would come in from the Autumn   .

Christmas 1973 saw us still appealing for Manchester Airport to come under the control of the British Airport Authority and hence get parity with London
airports    .

Spring 1974 and newly-formed Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council are considering proposals on Aircraft Noise and the second
runway   .  By now I am sure you can see how slow the endless proposals process is, so I'll reduce my summary to points where significant changes, for good or bad, were made.  

 

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Airport Noise 1972b.jpg

Fig. 20 Manchester Airport Response to Noise
© Ratepayers' Association
Click on Image To View

Christmas 1980.  All sorts of proposals on both sides in the intervening years, such as scrapping the second runway and limiting night flights to 3,100 as per Heathrow in-between. Worthy of mention is that whilst  Heald Green had the worst insulation grants of any region in the country, the airport now proposed increasing night flights to 4,900 in 1981. 

D. W. Whitehead wrote that Heald Green's policy towards the airport was, "a viable airport in an acceptable environment", but we would never accept a policy which leads to "a licence to print money in a residential hell-hole"    .

In Spring 1982 Peter Burns raised the issue of vortex damage - at Heathrow this was paid for, not in Heald Green   .  Peter fought valiantly for many years regarding the resolution to the age-old issues of parity on compensation and night flight levels, but to no avail.

The arguments rumbled on year after year.  In the 1990s, the focus switched to second runway plans, but the issue was the same - increasing noise, inadequate compensation and no parity with London or even other regional airports.

In 2015, the number of night flights had reached 11,000 (airportwatch.com).

During covid, the planes have almost been silenced.  Sat in the garden, I could hear the birds and smell just how fresh the air was.  For a short time, we have been able to understand what it must have been like to live in Heald Green before the airport, as reported by deceased residents, elsewhere on this website.

My neighbour had reported to me that air quality used to be monitored from a device at the library which had long since disappeared.  We wondered if it was still measured.  Dave Mullin kindly did some research and pictured below is the current monitoring equipment and here, an
air quality report for 2020. Not unsurprisingly, we are within national limits this year.  Let's hope that can continue in the future.  Chris Walsh has confirmed this green unit monitors air quality (NO2), and that another unit situated in the field by Daisy Bank, monitors noise.

Today, planes are designed to be quieter than 1970s models, and adhere more closely to agreed take-off and landing  flightpaths.  However, in the summer when more aircraft tend to take off over Heald Green, budget flights and pilots less familiar with the airport sometimes cut corners to save fuel. 

You can
monitor aircraft noise in real-time, or report a noise complaint by completing a form, on the airports Noise Disturbance and Webtrak page.

 

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Air Quality Monitoring Station Daisy Ban

Fig. 21 Air Quality Monitoring Station, Finney Lane 2021
© Colin Barnsley
Click on Image To View
Click here to read 2020 Air Quality Report

 

 

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Tragedy

“My Mum used to be a ground hostess for BEA (British European Airways). Her uniform was very Jackie Kennedy-like, with a pillbox hat. She was working the night the plane crashed in Stockport and had to escort relatives to the briefing room."
- Helen Morgan, 2021

Air travel is extremely safe, and thankfully any accident a rare occurrence.
 

On 4 June 1967 a Canadair C-4 Argonaut passenger aircraft owned by British Midland Airways crashed near the centre of Stockport. Of the 84 people on board, 72 were killed. It is the fourth-worst accident in British aviation history  .

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Stockport Air Disaster 1967 BBC small.jp

Fig. 22 Stockport Air Disaster, Hopes Carr 1967
© BBC

Click on Image To View, or,
Click Here to Watch a Documentary
 

Manchester Airport Disaster 1985 MEN sma

British Airtours Flight 28M was an international passenger flight which caught fire before takeoff at Manchester Airport, England on 22 August 1985, with the loss of 55 lives    .

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Fig. 23 Manchester Air Disaster, Airport 1985
© Manchester Evening News

Click on Image To View, or,
Click Here to Watch a Documentary
 

Memorial Garden with memorial to No 613

Fig. 24 Memorial Garden ; specific memorial to RAAF No.613 Squadron shown on right, 2000
© Manchester Airport Ringway Remembered

Click on Image To View
 

 

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Celebrity

It wasn't just people who were celebrities, but certain aircraft made an impact at the airport.  This first one was a regular visitor in fact - the super Guppy bringing Airbus wings to Manchester from a factory in Broughton, near Chester.  It never felt like it should be able to take off, let alone stay in the air.
 

Super Guppy 90s Mark Williams small.jpg

Fig. 25 Super Guppy, 1990s
© Mark Williams

Click on Image To View
 

Another occasional visitor that came to stay - Concorde's final touchdown before retiring to the Runway Visitor Park.
 

Concorde final landing 2003 (c) Paul Fel

Fig. 26 Manchester Airport - Concorde's final landing 2003 © Paul Feldham on Manchester(Ringway)/Woodford Memories FB page
Click on Image To View
 

As a child, I lived beneath the most direct flight path from Manchester Airport to Woodford.  I became familiar with the many light aircraft that would take pleasure flights between the two airports (in the days when they were still based at Manchester).

However the highlight of the year was the Woodford Air Show. By climbing on my Dad's shed roof, I could see across the fields with only trees obscuring a ground level view of the Woodford buildings. You could still see most of the flypasts. 


All the unusual aircraft for the show would fly in to Manchester in the run-up, then fly low over my house on the way to and from Woodford.  The Red Arrows would generally rehearse their display the day before, so I'd get two free shows!
 

Concorde 2021 c MIAVP - small.jpg

Fig. 27 Concorde's home in 2021
© Runway Visitor Park

Click on Image To View

Red Arrows Woodford Airshow c1973 Paul H

Fig. 28 The Red Arrows at Woodford Air Show, 1973
© Paul Hussey

Click on Image To View
 

Vulcan Woodford Mark Jones small.jpg

Fig. 29 Vulcan at Woodford Air Show
© Mark Jones

Click on Image To View
 

Many celebrities have come to Manchester Airport.  I have selected three of the most significant, as they came through Heald Green. 

In April 1941, Winston Churchill disembarked from a train at Heald Green station (there was no airport spur back then), and went on by car to Ringway to witness the parachute training there. 

 

Churchill at HG Station on way to Ringwa
Yuri Gargarin Visits Manchester 1961 wat

Fig. 30 Winston at HG Station
Click on Image To View
 


On 12th July 1961, the first man in space - cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin - came to Manchester.  Click here to watch a video about the day.

“I saw Yuri Gagarin on Styal Road [in an open top car procession]. Thousands turned out to see him."
- Mick Hankinson, 2021

Fig. 31 Yuri Gargarin arrives in Manchester, 1961
© Manchester Evening News

Click on Image To View, or,
Click Here to Watch a Video

 


On 29th August 1966, Bing Crosby and his wife flew to Prestwick (briefly, probably to refuel) and then to Manchester, on his way to the Lakes to make a film for a television company. Whilst here he briefly visited Heald Green.
 

“Bing Crosby visited his valet’s mum’s maisonette on Newbury Road in 1966. How awesome is that! He stayed about 20 minutes and rolled up in a limo. Residents ran down the road to see him, my neighbour’s mum touched his shoulder... her claim to fame! His valet/butler was Alan Fisher.
"
- Helen Morgan, Facebook, 2021

Bing Crosby visits Newbury Ave Heald Gre

Fig. 32 Bing in Newbury Road, 1966
© Manchester Evening News

Click on Image To View
 

“I remember, I lived at 53 newbury. The Dixons lived at 49 Newbury ; their son was Bing's butler... the whole street were out."
- Colin Wolstenholme, Facebook, 2021

And finally, the most exceptional celebrity visitor to the airport - certainly judging by the number of comments it received on our Facebook page - the Space Shuttle "Enterprise".  This once-in-a-lifetime visitor flew low over Heald Green on 7th June 1983, en route for an airshow in Paris. As of 2021, it is on display at the the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

Space Shuttle flypast on back of 747 070

Fig. 33 Space Shuttle "Enterprise" over Heald Green 1983
© Mark Jones

Click on Image To View
 

“On the 378 (Wilmslow - Stockport) bus in the Cale Green area of Stockport when it went over...stunning. "
- Rob James, 2021

“I was working at the NatWest in the village at the time and might just have found a reason to take a paying-in book across the road to GT Car & Cycle Spares at precisely the moment it crossed over Finney Lane heading for touch down - I did not engineer the timing at all haha!"
- Alison Murray, 2021

“Me and my brother [were] half way down the middle pier (not domestic and not the international where most of the heavies went!), carrying a huge air radio. Pilot had a stunning deep South drawl to his voice!"
- Mark Griffin, 2021

“We watched [the shuttle] from the Taproom door of the Griffin. An amazing sight."
- Diane Elkington, 2021

“I watched this from the old viewing area near the Valley Lodge [hotel, Airport Inn Manchester in 2021]. I was lucky enough the previous year to get a similar shot of the Challenger [shuttle] being delivered new on N905NA [Boeing 747-123 airliner] to the Kennedy Space Center."
- Nigel Ward, 2021

“I was a plane spotter from the mid 1970s to the late 1980s and I had some great days at Ringway (as we knew it then). Great Div[ersion] days [when more and unusual planes diverted from Heathrow, typically], Concorde etc...but for me, this [Shuttle] was the best ever! Staff from the control tower came out on the balcony, lots of airport vehicles parked up along the runway and the south side was opened up for cars to come in and see this "once in a lifetime" sight! I'll never forget it!"
- Mark Griffin, 2021

Manchester Airport Aerial c Peter Kester

Fig. 34 Manchester Airport From Above, 2012
© Peter Kesternich
Click Image to View
 

"Can you fly this plane and land it?"
"Surely you can't be serious?"
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

- Airplane!, 1980

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"Up, Up and Away, in my beautiful balloon..."

* The song, written in the Sixties, has nothing to do with planes or drugs, it really was about balloons. Sung by The 5th Dimension in 1967, this multiple Grammy award-winning single was a breakthrough for Jimmy Webb, one of the greatest and most prolific song-writers you may never have heard of. He had limited performing success, but wrote hits for everyone who mattered and was lauded by everyone from Elvis to Sinatra. After a lifetime of writing, in my opinion he absolutely nailed versions of his best compositions on two albums - Just Across The River and Still Within the Sound of My Voice, and wrote a fascinating autobiography. You're welcome.

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