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Manchester Barton Aerodrome

Manchester/Barton - EGCB - City Airport Manchester

City Airport Manchester (ICAO: EGCB) is a general aviation airport in the Barton-upon-Irwell area of Eccles, in the City of Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Formerly known as Barton Aerodrome, it is 5 NM (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) west of Manchester and was the United Kingdom's first purpose-built municipal airport. Featuring four grass runways, it is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the UK. The airfield operates seven days a week, from 9 am until sunset for fixed wing aircraft. Commercial, military, police and air ambulance helicopters can operate during the hours of darkness by arrangement, as the airfield can be equipped with portable runway lighting.

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

An aircraft parking area at City Airport Manchester
in front of the control tower
(Click on the photo to enlarge)

The airport is also used as a refuelling stop for light aircraft and helicopters which are flying up and down the United Kingdom. However, it lies on the edge of Chat Moss and the aircraft movements area still suffers from prolonged periods of waterlogging, restricting fixed wing operations at those times.

Manchester Barton Aerodrome has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P886) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (City Airport Manchester Limited). The aerodrome is not licensed for night use.

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

Based Aircraft
(Click on the photo to enlarge)

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

Based Aircraft
(Click on the photo to enlarge)

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

Based Aircraft
(Click on the photo to enlarge)


Construction of Manchester's new municipal aerodrome at Barton, Eccles (Borough of Eccles, Greater Manchester) started in autumn 1928 to replace the temporary Manchester (Wythenshawe) Aerodrome. The grass airfield and large hangar were completed in January 1930, when the first passenger charter flight occurred. [3] Barton was managed until 1933 by Northern Air Lines, who based several Avro 504s and other types for training, club and charter flights. Imperial Airways operated a thrice-weekly scheduled service to London's (Croydon Airport) via Castle Bromwich Aerodrome, Birmingham during summer 1930, subsidised by the councils of Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. This service flew north from Croydon in the evening and returned next morning, in order to provide connections to Europe.[4]

An aircraft parking area at City Airport Manchester in front of the control tower

A control tower and associated wireless station were completed in spring 1933,[5] the first at a municipal airport outside London, and able to communicate with aircraft in flight and give pilots bearings from the airfield. The tower is currently operational and is believed to be the oldest in Europe still in use for its original purpose.

Scheduled services resumed in August 1934, when Croydon-based Railway Air Services commenced a Croydon-Barton-Belfast-Glasgow route. Linking services to Liverpool, Blackpool and the Isle of Man were introduced in spring 1935.[6] Other smaller airlines, including Isle of Man Air Services operated services from Barton until June 1938, when all schedules transferred to the newly completed larger Ringway Airport[7] which between 1940 and 1957 also accommodated RAF Ringway.

During World War II, Barton was requisitioned and used for military aircraft repair and overhaul, carried out by civilian firms including Air Taxis Ltd and David Rosenfield Ltd. Aircraft types involved were Avro Ansons, Dominies, Fairey Battles, Fairey Fulmars, Hawker Hurricanes and F4U Corsairs, followed by the scrapping of Fairey Swordfish. Over 700 Percival Proctor training and communications aircraft were assembled and tested at Barton by F.Hills & Sons of Trafford Park. There is a concrete air-raid bunker dating from this period hidden under overgrown vegetation near to the main road (A57) still at the site.

Lancashire Aero Club, formed in 1924 at Alexandra Park Aerodrome,[8] operated from Woodford Aerodrome from 1925 until 1939. Postwar, the club was asked to leave by Avro and moved to Barton in 1946[9] and remain based here until 2007. Manchester University Air Squadron (MUAS) was based in one of the wartime-built western hangars between 1946 and 1953, when the unit moved to RAF Woodvale near Southport, Lancashire. MUAS had flown Tiger Moth and Chipmunk trainers. No.2 Reserve Flying School, also flying Tiger Moths and Chipmunks, was based at Barton from 1 October 1948 until its closure on 31 March 1953 and gave primary flight training to volunteers, who would later serve in the Royal Air Force. The unit used the same facilities as MUAS.

The airport was owned by Manchester City Council until 2003 when Manchester Ship Canal Developments, (of which Peel Holdings Group is the majority shareholder), purchased the land, hangars and other buildings. The airport is now run by a subsidiary of Peel Airports, City Airport Manchester Ltd.

City Airport Manchester has changed relatively little since its opening, and is considered a good example of the airfields of the 1930s. There are several historical items of note at Barton; a small museum in the visitor centre displays documents from the history of the original Manchester Airport. The Bomber Command Association also has a display at the Barton Visitor Centre.

The airfield has been used as a setting for numerous films and TV programmes, amongst them "Brass" (where Barton masqueraded as Croydon), Mersey Beat, GBH and Island at War. The distinctive control tower featured prominently in the making of those programmes and films. The control tower underwent a major programme of rebuilding and refurbishment in 2006 and is protected by its grade II listed building status, along with the original terminal building and hangar.

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

Barton overhead
(Click on the photo to enlarge)

Emergency services air support

Both the Greater Manchester Police Air Support Unit and the North West Air Ambulance base a helicopter at the airfield. The Police Air Support Unit is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

North West Air Ambulance is a registered charity providing a regional medical air emergency service covering Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria. The NWAA has one MBB Bo 105 helicopter based primarily to serve Greater Manchester, South Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside.

Helicopter out of hours movements

City Airport Manchester can operate as an unlicenced airfield during the hours of darkness by arrangement for commercial, military, police and air ambulance helicopters, as the airport can be equipped with portable runway lighting. This facility is used particularly during football matches at nearby Old Trafford, (Manchester United) and City of Manchester Stadium (Manchester City).

Rescue and fire fighting

City Airport Manchester operates a Category 1 Rescue and Fire Fighting service, utilising a Toyota Hilux Double Cab as a fire tender equipped with 80 imp gal (360 L; 96 US gal) of foam/water mix.

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

City Airport Manchesters' Open Day and Aircraft Fly-In held
on 27th September 2008
(Click on the photo to enlarge)

Manchester Barton Aerodrome picture

City Airport Manchesters' Open Day and Aircraft Fly-In held
on 27th September 2008


Airport type Public

Owner Peel Group

Operator City Airport Manchester Ltd

Serves Manchester/Salford

Location Barton-upon-Irwell, Eccles

Tel: 0161 789 1362

Elevation AMSL 73 ft / 22 m

Coordinates 53°28'18" N 002°23'23" W


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