THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of April 1946

Future of harbour airport in doubt

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 10:00 am
Travel throughout Northern Ireland tries to get by to normal as snow and icy conditions still effect parts of the country in December 2010. A plane takes off at George Best Belfast City Airport. Picture: Jonathan Porter/

There was a possibility that the Belfast Harbour Airport at Sydenham would be closed to civil aviation and its functions transferred to the airport at Nutts Corner reported the News Letter during this week in 1946.

The first hint of such a move had been given by Sir Frederick Rebbeck, chairman of Harland and Wolff, and the News Letter had made inquiries which had more or less confirmed the plan.

Sir Frederick indicated that Nutts Corner, which was 13 miles outside of the city, was to be the new “trans-continental” airport and he had expressed grave concern at the prospect of the cross-channel air taxi service being diverted away from the Harbour Airport.

He pointed to the obvious advantages of the Harbour Airport, “which is within a few minutes’ journey of the city’s great industrial establishments”.

The News Letter reported that the Ministry of Commerce had made no comment when approached to verify or deny the rumours, but it was pointed out that experts of the Ministry of Civil Aviation were expected in Belfast to determine the question of the trans-continental base.

It was noted: “The views of the Harbour Board will, of course, be put before the responsible.”

Officers of US destroyers welcomed by NI Prime Minister

Officers from the US destroyers Cone and Glennon, which were paying a visit to Northern Ireland this week in April 1946 had been the guests of the 
government at a luncheon in the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast.

With the Prime Minister (Sir Basil Brooke), who presided, were the Minister of Finance (Major J Maynard Sinclair) and the Minister of Health and Local Government (Mr William Grant).

Other guests included members of the Senate and House of Commons, Sir Thomas Dixon, HML; the High Sheriff of Belfast, the American Consul (Mr Quincy F Roberts) and other representatives of the Consulate, and heads of the British fighting services.

The Prime Minister, welcoming the American naval guests, said: “Such a visit as this provides an opportunity of renewing friendships made during the fiery years of war.

“During those years a bridge was built across the Atlantic and that bridge will always remain.

“The United States and the British Empire are bound indissolubly together a family, and on them, in large measure, the future peace of the world will depend.”

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