Sep 23, 2008

Christchurch Airport 1950s

Christchurch Airport at Harewood opened for commercial service in 1940, with passengers flying aboard a four engined de Havilland Dragon Express (above). However, the Second World War got in the way and it wasn't until the 16th of December, 1950 that the aerodrome officially became New Zealand’s first International Airport - a century to the day from the arrival of the first Canterbury Association settlers to arrive directly from London (a few had already arrived via Wellington, but our received history prefers to ignore that inconvenient fact).

From 1946 the passenger terminal (below) had been situated in a former RNZAF hanger about where the far end of the current overseas terminal now stands. It ceased to be used as such after the completion of a new terminal in 1960, but wasn't demolished until 1978.

Regular trans-Tasman flights began on the 29th of June 1951, when Tasman Empire Airways Ltd. chartered an aircraft from QANTAS (below). Under the command of Capt D. F. McMaster the Philippine Trader, a 42 passenger Douglas DC-4 aeroplane began a regular service between Melbourne and Christchurch (the 16 year old aircraft would eventually crash into the sea off Brindisi, Italy shortly after take-off in July 1962).

By 1953 TEAL (Air New Zealand since 1965) in conjunction with BOAC (now British Airways) was offering a three and half day service to London. Local Passengers connected with with a de Havilland Comet jet at Sydney and flew on via the Far East. It was an expensive alternative to a six week sea voyage and intending Christchurch passengers could expect a Travel Consultant from the airline to call upon them at home to discuss the various options.

A couple of distinguished thespians bringing Shakespeare to Christchurch's Theatre Royal; Dame Sybil Thorndike and Sir Lewis Casson in front of the original Control Tower in 1954.

To promote the Christchurch City Libraries Retrospective: Christchurch life, architecture and design 1940s - 1970s photo competition, we're featuring a series of images from each decade. This week is the 1950s and next week we'll take a look at the 1960s.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi im just wondering who built christchurch airport?