Developing the Airport and Dreams of a Heliport

Martin Dodge

Department of Geography, University of Manchester


The talk will consider the planning of civil aviation facilities in the post-war era and their significance to the Manchester regional economy and its strategic positioning as the key northern city. Manchester Corporation made considered attempts to develop the small municipal aerodrome at Ringway into a major airport capable of landing wide bodies jet airliners and with a large modern terminal able to handle millions of passengers a year. The growth in flights in subsequent decades and continued success of the airport is juxtaposed to schemes for a city centre heliport in Manchester in the 1950s that never materialised. The helicopter was a thrillingly modern technology in this period, with its ability to hover and land vertically, and it was envisaged to offer radical improvements in intra-urban travel and especially for rapid movement directly between city centres. The exploitation of the air space immediately above the cityscape seemed to hold out real hope to overcome the congested streets below. Yet the design and siting of heliports was uncertain at the time and is now forgotten as helicopter services never managed to make the transition from exciting novelty to routine mass transit.

[Download Presentation Sides]

(Courtesy of Manchester City Archives, ref. GB127.M723/82)

(Courtesy of Manchester City Archives, ref. GB127.M723/82)


(Courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection, ref. m62548)

(Courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection, ref. m62548)

Martin Dodge is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Manchester and his research focuses primarily on the politics of mapping technologies, new modes of geographic visualisation, and understanding of urban infrastructures. He has co-authored three books analysing technologies: Mapping Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000), Atlas of Cyberspace (Addison-Wesley, 2001) and Code/Space (MIT Press, 2011). With Richard Brook, he has curated the Infra_MANC exhibition on post-war urban infrastructure for the Manchester Histories Festival and held in the CUBE Gallery in spring 2012.



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