RAF Ringway - The Story
Today, Manchester Airport is the third busiest in the entire country. Each day, hundreds of planes take people in and out of Manchester, to and from all over the world.
I’m sure most of you will be aware that during world war two, the airport was known as RAF Ringway- today “Ringway Airport” is still it’s nickname. But in this article, I want to go into a bit more detail about what happened at RAF Ringway during the second world war, we’ll be looking at some of the things that happened there, and how the airport tries to keep the memory alive.
About Ringway Parish
Let’s start by talking where the airport is based. I know it’s called “Manchester Airport”, but it’s the nickname that tells us it’s actual location. Ringway.
Ringway is a peaceful little parish in Greater Manchester, very different from the hustle and bustle of Manchester City. This village is the only Parish you will find in Greater Manchester. It’s not somewhere tourists flock, nor is it somewhere that does a lot of business. Still, if you want to have a weekend away in a peaceful village away from the stress of urban life, it’s lovely.
The most notable feature of Ringway (aside from the airport) in the chapel.
The Beginning of RAF Ringway
Initially, there wasn’t going to be an airport in Ringway. RAF Ringway was originally going to be built in Barton Aerodrome. However, the boggy marshland would not have been a suitable place for the large aircraft becoming more common.
They eventually decided that Ringway would be a better location for an airport than Barton. For just under a year, people used the airport for commercial flights, which were quite different today.
Had they decided to build it in Barton, it’s unlikely it would be the airport it is today.
During the War
Just over a year of the airport being used by the public (although mainly just the rich public), the second world war started. As you can imagine, during this time, not many people were jetting off on holiday.
Not wanting all that land to go to waste, they decided to change it to an RAF base. Complete with Hangars (places where planes are stored), barrack blocks (accommodation for soldiers), and ancillary accommodation.
Even though this wasn’t the start of the airport’s history, it was the start of its history getting interesting.
One of the most common uses for RAF ringway was as a parachute training academy. In 1940, it was home to the number one parachute training school in the country. Not only did they teach people how to use parachutes, but they also developed technology which would make them safer and easier to use.
Not only did they train British soldiers, but they also taught people from all over the allied countries. Thanks to this base, British paratroopers were able to do their job as efficiently as they could.
Today, we would not recommend using the airport as a parachuting base.
Being an RAF base, it’s inevitable that the RAF would build planes there. These planes were one of the key reasons the allied forces won the war. In total, people who worked at RAF Ringway made 4400 warplanes at RAF Ringway.
Not only did they build planes here, but they also built modified, and repaired them. This type of work would have been vital when fighting a war; you would always need to be one step ahead of the enemy.
The hangars they used to do their work are still in operation today. But today, they’re used to store commercial flights when they’re not in the air.
No. 613 Squadron
No. 613 squadron is more commonly known as “Manchester Squadron”. They are best known for being a tactical bomber unit, bombing very specific places in the Axis.
After the war, they were reformed as a fighter unit.
They’re motto was “Semper Parati” which is Latin for “Always Ready”.
Originally, they were going to be called “East Lancashire Squadron”. However, people were worried this would cause people to get confused with the “West Lancashire Squadron”.
Instead, they chose the name “Manchester Squadron”, which is why the airport is so commonly associated with Manchester city.
When the war came to an end, there was no longer a need to continue having it as an RAF base. In 1957, the base closed down.
Since then, it has gone onto become a commercial airport. I often wonder how many of the hundreds of people that go through the airport each day know what it used to be like.
As Manchester Airport grew more popular, parts that used be for RAF use got built over for things such as extra terminals, and car parks.
Should world war three ever break out, I’m pretty sure it will return to an RAF base.
The Officers Mess used to be there as an airport archive. People waiting between flights would have been able to take a look at the history of the airport. Unfortunately, this was closed down in 2008 to make way for an airport.
In the garden’s of Olympic House, located near the airport, these are stone memorials of the people who worked and trained in RAF Ringway.
If you ever use Manchester Airport Railway, you can see memorials of Alcock and Brown, pioneers of transatlantic flight. John Block was born in Old Trafford- a town near the airport.
Even though hundreds of tourists and travellers go through the airport every day, it was being used as an essential RAF base during the second world war before this was happening.
At RAF Ringway, the RAF would train paratroopers from several countries. Warcraft was built, repaired, and modified. It was also the base of the No.613 Squadron.
From 1939 until 1957, this base was responsible for helping Britain be on the war’s winning side. And since then, it has gone onto become the third busiest airport in the country.
Manchester Airport Taxi Service are proud to be driving people to and from this historic airport.