1958 - Transair's Gatwick
Their new base and Gatwick's first arrival
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In 1956 the old Gatwick Airport, based around the Beehive Terminal, closed. This was to enable the basis of the airport we see today to be laid out and built. The closure of Croydon was a certainty, though many airlines refused to accept it. One that grasped the opportunity was Transair. Their inhouse magazine featured the news in the February 1956 edition.
Then early in 1957 Transair invested £300,000 and were the first airline to start building their new base within the boundary of the new Gatwick.
It would be ready in time for the re-opening of Gatwick in 1958. Their offices and hangar would grow into BUA then BCal's maintenance facilty as the years went on.
The hangar could accommodate two or three aircraft and it had sections of floor which could be lowered to enable easier access to the Viscount aircraft; with pits for the propeller blades to lower into of course.
With their new offices next door it was a very self-contained set-up on the south side of the runway.
The design of the hangar was cutting edge at the time and one of the earliest uses of concrete beams to span such a large area.
The image to the left is the cover of Concrete Quarterly, June 1958, and the cover features the frame of Transair's hangar.
The magazine caption says:
"The startling slenderness of the roof members of Gatwick's new Transair hangar must have opened many eyes to the structural possibilities offered by prestressed concrete."
A Viscount lowered into the floor for maintenance
The new Transair Maintenance Base at Gatwick - complete with hangar signage
Transair were the first airline to build their new base at Gatwick, but the first aircraft was due to be the Queen's Royal Flight aircraft on opening day, 9th June; then a BEA aircraft. BEA had a service due to arrive the day after on 10th June.
But, very appropriately, the first commercial aircraft to use Gatwick was a Transair Viscount - G-AOXV - returning to the UK on a trooping contract flight from Malta. They arrived on 30th May, over a week before the BEA service......and here is that arrival.
The Transair press release.....attached to the back of the photo:
Transair Move to Gatwick
The first commercial aircraft to fly into the new Gatwick Airport was a Transair Viscount (Friday, May 30) on a trooping flight from Malta, with servicemen and their familes disembarking in front of the new terminal building.
Transair began to move their fleet of 12 Dakmasters and three Viscounts into their new base on May 30th and completed the operation on June 3rd.
The new Transair Building, which covers 70,000 sq feet is one of the most modern of its kind in the world. It will house the whole of the Transair organisation besides providing facilities for the servicing of the Transair fleet.
The hangar has Plyglass walls - the roof is also ultra-modern - made of triangulated concrete beams formed of pre-cast pre-stressed units.
First of its kind in the world, the floor of the Transair hangar provides a sunken hydraulic lift which enables a plane under maintenance to be brought down to floor level.
Transair's activities include trooping services to Malta and Gibraltar, newspaper and mail services covering the whole of Europe, and Inclusive Tour Services to many of the popular Mediterranean desitinations.
Gatwick Airport, Surrey.
|Transair Check-in Desks
|The Marshallers Tower
|The Gatwick Cocktail Bar
A view of G-AOXV in the distance with the airport to itself!
.......And some images of Gatwick when it was new
Two pages from Transair's in-house magzine from February 1956
And we finish with two photos of the Transair Hangar, circa 1959, from Roger Botting
Many more of Roger's photos can be seen in the Your Photo's galleries
And the new Transair hangar at night, as seen from the airport perimeter Road
Transair Hangar Site Plan and Detailed Layout
Here we have a very detailed plan of the hangar and the workshops, offices and accomodations, with two Viscounts shown in the hangar.