Up, up and away – Blackpool’s other airport

Queueing for joy flights at old Blackpool Stanley Park aerodrome, 1933
Queueing for joy flights at old Blackpool Stanley Park aerodrome, 1933

Most people will be familiar with Blackpool Airport at Squires Gate.

But they may not know, there used to be another airport, based at the resort’s Stanley Park.

A scene at Stanley Park Airport in the 1930s, when competing machines in the King's Cup Air Race were landing to check in and refuel, Blackpool being one of the control points of the race

A scene at Stanley Park Airport in the 1930s, when competing machines in the King's Cup Air Race were landing to check in and refuel, Blackpool being one of the control points of the race

It occupied 120 acres of a 400 acre site acquired by Blackpool Corporation for aviation and sports use under the Blackpool Improvement Act 1928.

The aerodrome was completed, licensed and opened for use in August 1929, at a cost of £39,000.

It was officially opened by Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, in 1931.

For the first few years, the airfield was used for aircraft owned by private individuals and flying clubs.

August 1938, 
Aerodrome, Stanley Park

August 1938, Aerodrome, Stanley Park

Then a whole range of pleasure and other flights started to be offered. Operators included the British Amphibious Air Company, who ran trips to the Isle Of Man for 36 shillings (around £1.80).

Crowds can be seen in our archive photograph, queuing for joy flights, from the Stanley Park Aerodrome, in March 1933.

The first scheduled air services from Stanley Park Aerodrome were operated by the short-lived United Airways to Isle of Man Airport during the summer of 1935 using eight-seat de Havilland Dragons.

In the early 1930s, the airport had all the mod-cons – including a handsome clubhouse.

A look inside the cabin of the aeroplane which took 50 Blackpool school children on Jubilee flights, in May 1935

A look inside the cabin of the aeroplane which took 50 Blackpool school children on Jubilee flights, in May 1935

This striking structure was enclosed with concrete palisading, surrounded by lawns, and had a tiered verandah.

Inside, there was a lounge with panelled walls, and a spacious dining room with curtained windows and tasteful decorations.

Other accommodation included a bar, cloakrooms, and kitchen, quarters for pilots, and a steward and stewardess. There was also a glass-sided look-out tower.

The aerodrome played host to aviation events, such as aerial displays and races.

The handsome clubhouse, pictured in June 1931

The handsome clubhouse, pictured in June 1931

A public air pageant was held at Stanley Park on June 26, 1932.

Another public event was held on September 7, 1935 during which Alan Cobhams National Aviation Day Circus performed.

Shown in one of the old photographs, is a scene at Stanley Park Airport from the 1930s, when competing machines in the King’s Cup Air Race were landing to check in and refuel.

Blackpool was one of the control points of the race.

And also in the 1930s, RAF officers can be seen visiting the aerodrome – before the outbreak of the Second World War,

They would perform displays at Stanley Park, as can be seen in these pictures.

RAF visit Stanley Park aerodrome

RAF visit Stanley Park aerodrome

In May 1935, these lucky school children got a chance to be on-board a Jubilee flight, from Stanley Park.

This black-and-white photo captures their excited faces inside the cabin.

But by 1933, rival operators had started flying again from Squires Gate, in South Shore – where the first air show in the UK had been staged, in 1909 and had been used intermittently for flights.

War broke out in September 1939 and Squires Gate and Stanley Park airfields were both used by the RAF.

Between 1941 and 45, the Vickers Company built 3,842 Wellington Bombers at Squires Gate.

Lancashire Aircraft Corporation (LAC) established an aircraft repair line at Stanley Park Aerodrome, which overhauled Bristol Beaufighters for return to service with the RAF.

After the Second World War, Stanley Park ceased to operate as an airfield. The focus for air travel development became Squires Gate.

The airport was redesigned in 1949 and by 1950, 25,000 passengers were going through the airport.

Beaufighter at Stanley Park aerodrome, World War Two

Beaufighter at Stanley Park aerodrome, World War Two