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An aviation hub, since 1930

In the inter-war years, the City of Manchester, in its quest to establish a municipal airport, chose the location of Fox hill Farm, alongside the present A57 in 1928. This choice was strongly influenced by the City’s Cleansing Department’s ownership there of 2600 acres and additional persuasion by John Leeming, who went on to lead the Lancashire Aero Club into existence at the airfield.

Building of the Airport commenced in March 1929 and to initially reduce costs, the area was limited to 80 acres east of Fox Hill Glen.

The Airport officially opened on 29th January 1930 with a large Hangar, which was designed to house the most advanced passenger aircraft of the day, the Imperial Airways Argosy. The airport became the first municipal airfield in the UK to be licensed by the Air Ministry and the iconic Control Tower was completed shortly after. Both the Control Tower and original Hangar are now Grade II listed buildings and remain in operation today.

The first landing was by an Avro Avian, with the first large aircraft to use the airfield being Imperial Airway’s three-engine Argosy on 23rd May 1930.

Today, the airport is home to multiple fixed and rotary operators, as well as a thriving GA community. Lancashire Aero Club; following a short hiatus away from the airfield, returned in 2022 to sponsor a small club lounge for pilots from the base of our historic tower. Today, spotters are likely to observe anything from Ikarus and Eurostar aircraft to PC-12 and Sikorsky S76 helicopters as well as the based North West Air Ambulance and NPAS helicopters.


It is not unusual for Barton to be host to visits from operators from the British armed forces. CH-47 Chinook, Merlin, Wildcat and Gazelle helicopters frequent the airport for fuel throughout the year. In the summer of 2022, Manchester Barton welcomed the United States Air Force with a first of type visit - CV22 Osprey.

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