The Beatles arrive at Turnhouse in 1964.
The Beatles arrive at Turnhouse in 1964.

Edinburgh's Turnhouse: These 27 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show how much the Capital's airport has changed

Before the days of budget airlines and long security queues, flying out from Edinburgh was a far more exciting and luxurious experience.

Monday, 14th February 2022, 3:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 11:31 am

Edinburgh Airport started life as Turnhouse Aerodrome which was opened in 1916 and used as the most northerly British air defence base by the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War.

When the Royal Air Force was created in 1918 it changed its name to RAF Turnhouse and was used by Fighter Command during the Second World War, with a new, longer runway added to allow the Supermarine Spitfire to safely land and take off.

The airport remained under military control after the war, but the first commercial flights arrived in 1947, when British European Airways started a service between Edinburgh and London.

In 1956 a new passenger terminal was built and four years later the Air Ministry transferred ownership to the Ministry of Aviation as part of a number of changes designed to offer improved commercial services.

International commercial services only arrived in 1962 with a direct service to Dublin, however most flights remained charter and private only.

But major change was coming, heralded by the British Airports Authority (BAA) taking over over ownership of the airport in 1971, with a new runway and terminal following and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 27 May, 1977.

By the mid-to-late 1970s, direct services to continental Europe were added, beginning with Amsterdam in 1975, and the 1980s saw the airport flourish with direct routes to Paris, Düsseldorf, Brussels, Frankfurt and Copenhagen.

In the following years a number of major developments have transformed the airport, including extensions of the two passenger terminals, expansion of car parking facilities with a multi-storey car park added in 2004, a new £10m air traffic control tower in 2005, and 10 additional gates.

BAA Limited, as it had become known, sold Edinburgh Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners for £807.2m in 2012 and the new owners quickly extended the passenger terminal further, up to the new Edinburgh Airport tram stop that became operational in 2014.

Today the airport is the sixth-busiest in the UK, with nearly 15 million passengers passing through its gates in 2019, and a workforce of around 2,500 people.

Here are 27 pictures to take you back to the airport in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was still known as Turnhouse.

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