November 14, 2008
Sydney Airport – part 1 – 1926 vs 1940
I think it’s extraordinary what we did to create Sydney Airport at Mascot and it’s worth revisiting the story occasionally to remind ourselves of both what we have created and what we have lost.
Thus begins my potted history of Sydney Airport, in pictures. It really started in the early 1920s with Nigel Love leasing land from the Ascot Racecourse and Recreation club, to the west of the racecourse, immediately west of the suburb of Lauriston Park, shaded green here. It was flat but boggy ground, bordered by Shea’s Creek to the west and Cook’s River to the south.
I have shaded the Ascot track in blue. It’s shown on both the 1926 and 1940 Premier and Robinson street directories, but disappears by the 1950s. That racecourse area became, variously, vacant land to the east of the threshold of runway 07/25; the Flight Facilities or GA area to the northeast; the east-west runway threshold itself; and what is now long-term parking. You can see that Lord’s Rd and the Cooks River bridge (in yellow) were still around in 1940, but disappeared when the river was diverted and the new concrete runways built (in the mid-1950s).
To the north is the Botany Goods Railway. You can see it is a straight line here, both in 1926 and 1940, but was later diverted to the north. Grass and gravel runways pointed roughly north-east to the south-west, and east-west during this period. The northeast threshold was cut by the railway line and one incident occurred when a DC3 collided famously with a goods train!
The streets to the north were subsumed into the airport after the railway diversion, later becoming part of what Qantas called its “Jet Base” with the advent of the 707. To the south are recreation grounds.