Belfast once had an airport called Nutt’s CornerBack to Forum
I thought I had heard it all …
But this historical video shows Belfast’s former airport Nutt’s Corner. The city’s main airport was to become Aldergrove which is used today.
It shows what a typical BEA domestic flight from this airport to London Heathrow was like at that time.
BEA’s prop Vanguards were the mainstay of its key domestic routes throughout that period.
To London by BEA Vanguard from Belfast’s Nutt’s Corner Airport (1963).
Like many UK regional airports at that time the terminal was a ramshackle collection of buildings. Nutt’s Corner would close on 25 September that year, all operations moving to a new facility at Aldergrove. pic.twitter.com/wCvG0Tc4Cb
— Captain Brent 🇬🇧 (@Birdseed501) June 29, 202229 Jun 2022
Nutt’s Corner was the main airport for Belfast and the remainder of Northern Ireland until the new airport opened in 1963. My parents moved to Belfast in 1952 and we used to go to Nutt’s Corner when my Uncle or my Grandmother travelled to or from London. There was a very informal Check in Desk with a large set of scales to one side. Also a very small magazine and newspaper shop in one corner.
The passengers would then pass through to the very minimal departure lounge where non passengers could also go. When my Uncle or Grandmother boarded the plane we could go outside and stand on the grass behind a small white fence which was about 2 feet high (about 610mm) and watch the plane depart. Initially it was Viscounts to London and DC3s to Liverpool and Glasgow (and possibly Manchester). The Viscount would taxi to the end of the runway and would stay there for several minutes while all the moving surfaces were checked e.g. ailerons; rudder; flaps; etc. before finally setting off with the great scream of the turboprops. It was a great airport and I enjoyed every visit!
I was also fortunate enough to be taken by my father on a tour of the new airport at Aldegrove just before it opened. This was a tour organised by one of the construction bodies. As the only route was through the RAF base we were given strict instructions on access including to wait at the side of the runway for the traffic light to change to green before we could drive across. Unfortunately one of the visitors (an architect) made the mistake of crossing the runway while the traffic light was red and was subsequently summoned to the control tower!30 Jun 2022
Oh my goodness, what a blast from the past, dear old Nutts Corner.
As a child it was always a treat to be taken to Nutts Corner to watch the planes and as a teenager it was always a grand adventure to fly to London in the Vanguard.
It was thrilling to see them landing and taxi up to park just outside the terminal building. Then the doors would open and two sets of internal airstairs, one at the front entrance and one at the rear entrance. would unfold, often in unison, and drop down to the ramp.
Once aboard there were the enormous oval windows to look out of as this magnificent airliner flew over to London crossing the Irish Sea. I see from the 1963 BEA domestic timetable there were six flights a day and seven on a Saturday. The flight time shows one hour twenty minutes and when you flew back from London you could check in at the West London Air Terminal on the Cromwell Road and the bus departed sixty minutes before your flight departed from Heathrow.
No security in those days, of course, just off the bus, into the terminal, walk to the gate, board, and fly away. And always, always the excitement of a window seat and looking out to watch the big propellers start spinning as each engine was started up.
I can also see from the timetable and evening flight in each direction has the wee crossed knife and fork symbol indicating a meal. On the catering page of the timetable is shows the catering for these flights to be ‘Assiette Anglais – Cold Plate’ which always struck me as a very fancy way of describing a ham or beef salad. But oh, oh the magic of eating something, or even just enjoying coffee and biscuits on a clear day, sun shining of the passing land below then the truly magical moment of crossing the coast and heading out over the sea.
And the funny thing is, six decades later – and despite and horrors and hassle of modern day security and check in – it remains just as magical to fly and cross the Irish Sea. Once you have the aviation bug there is no cure!
Nutts Corner was well know not just for the aeroplanes but for Hares, hundred and hundreds of Hares which you could see on the grassy areas when taking off or landing.
The timetable stuff I found on this website which is a truly awesome website for anyone interested in old aviation timetables. Well worth perusing.
Thanks for posting the clip – it has awakened many happy memories of flights past.30 Jun 2022
The hares associated Nutts Corner with a safe area. The aircraft noise frightened the foxes away. When Nutts Corner closed the hares moved the three miles across to Aldergrove for safety…..and 60 years later are still causing a problem. In the late 70s the main runway…25/07…had to be closed for investigation as the hares were causing a degradation of the structural integrity. For weeks the short runway17/35 had to be used, with no ILS….a real problem for the BEA Tridents. Also a problem for the two Cambrian night freighter Viscounts. There was talk of reopening Nutts Corner for a short while then.
I think Nutts Corner was used for stock car racing eventually. But it’s still there now.
Did a DanAir 748 land at Nutts Corner in error, looking for Aldergrove, on a visual approach?
Memories!30 Jun 2022
You are correct, Openfly, in remembering a Dan-Air 748 commercial flight landed at the wrong airport but it was ex-RAF Langford Lodge, not Nutts Corner, where the flight from Newcastle mistakenly landed on 2nd March 1989.
1 user thanked author for this post.30 Jun 2022
I remember visiting Nutts Corner, probably ’62, to pick up my grandmother when you could go out onto the apron and greet the incoming PAX when they got off the steps! My best anecdote, however, is from my father who in the early fifties would return home to Suffolk during the shooting season and bring his shot gun with him. It would be placed on the hat rack above his head – in its case, of course!30 Jun 2022
Looking at the old airport (or what’s left of it) on Google Earth, there is a main road crossing right through the middle of the runway. Was that there when the airport was open, with traffic lights controlling the when cars could cross?1 Jul 2022