Memory Lane: High-flying plan took a nosedive

A 1944 plan showing Blackpool's proposed Atlantic air terminal and a seaplane base in the River Estuary.
A 1944 plan showing Blackpool's proposed Atlantic air terminal and a seaplane base in the River Estuary.
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WE rightly cheer each time Blackpool International Airport gets a new route, so think of the reaction almost 70 years ago this week when the Gazette headlines proclaimed the resort would become the “Charing Cross of the Air”.

Bold plans were unveiled in July, 1944 for a £10m Atlantic air terminal, as well as a huge seaplane base at the mouth of the River Ribble, which would be connected to the airport by underground tunnel.

Town clerk Trevor Jones told a reporter: “If the proposal goes ahead it will mark the greatest advance in Blackpool’s air policy, and will provide tremendous facilities for overseas visitors.”

The scheme would make Blackpool “an aerial Charing Cross where airliners from all parts of the world will converge”. Mr Jones continued: “We have the blessing of the Air Ministry. This is Blackpool’s chance of becoming established in air travel for all time.

“Manchester, Liverpool and at least two other places would jump at the chance, but for climatic and meteorological reasons, we are assured, officially, Blackpool is the place.”

He added that the airport, at the southern end of the Blackpool boundary, would extend into neighbouring Lytham St Annes and into the County Council district of the Fylde rural area.

Of the seaplane base, Mr Jones said: “It is proposed to construct it at the mouth of the River Ribble bordering Southport, and it will be four miles across, with a depth of 15ft.

“The basin will be made by pumping out the sand, reclaiming the land on both sides of the estuary and the deepening of the river channel. An underground tunnel is planned to connect the seaplane base with the airport.”

A report to councillors suggested: “A large majority of visitors would be attracted to the airport and would make a substantial contribution to the revenue of the undertaking, enabling it to be maintained as an economic proposition.”

Our thanks go to reader Malcolm Eaves, of Cunliffe Road, Marton, who prompted a search through The Gazette archives after he found a national newspaper cutting about the project in a box of family memorabilia.

He wondered what The Gazette at the time had reported about the proposed venture, adding: “They were very bold proposals but we all know that, for one reason or another, they never got off the ground.”