13th March 1937

Building work starts on Guernsey Airport

Work began on Guernsey Airport in 1937. The ground was broken in mid-March, and the project was scheduled to take two years to complete, on a budget of £90,000. The build slightly over-spent, coming in at a total of £100,500.

If that doesn’t sound like much – or long – remember that the concrete runway it has today wasn’t part of the original plans. The first incarnation of the airport at La Villaize had four grass landing strips and a much smaller terminal building. The only concrete used was a thin strip along the centre of the runways, which marked their course and direction.

The longest runway was 930m (3060ft). That was around two and a half times longer than the runway at L’Eree had been, but far shorter than the airport’s current single runway, which is 1583m (5194ft).

Guernsey Airport

Airport history

Until the Forest site was opened, planes coming to and from Guernsey used the low ground at L’Eree, which was prone to flooding. Before that, the service had been provided by flying boats, which put in at St Peter Port. These had been a natural progression from the seaplane base that Guernsey had hosted during the First World War.

The current site hadn’t always been a given. In spring 1934, Jersey Airways had requested that a proper aerodrome be built at L’Ancresse, which is logical as the site is generally flat and unobstructed. The final decision lay with the Deputies, who debated the matter and chose the high ground at La Villaize instead. It sits 102m (366ft) above sea level.

Work began almost right away and required the removal of five miles of hedges and 120,000 cubic metres of earth. It was completed on time and opened by the Minister for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, on 5th May 1939. The man in charge was Flight Lieutenant FA Swoffer.

Regular civilian air services didn’t really get going until late 1946, following the occupation. It had been taken over by the RAF four months after its opening, and in 1940, German aircraft landed there, marking the start of the occupation.

Guernsey Airport today


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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st