Central Library holds a treasure trove of local history within our digital exhibition space. These histories are unraveled using the archives held within our local collections. In order to create a vibrant and informative exhibit, time and patience are the most crucial ingredients. Follow me as I show you the process of bringing these collections to life within our digital exhibition space.  

Main hangar, Barton Airport, taken from the Barton Control Tower 1933

The Robinson Aviation collection is one of the newest archival materials donated to the Central Library. This wonderful time capsule, comprises of newspaper cuttings, official documents, photographs and maps. The collection  was put together by Brain Robinson over his lifetime and reflects his lifelong passion for aviation in Greater Manchester.

Barton Exhibition

With so much information on Barton Airport compiled together it was difficult to create an accurate timeline of historical events. The local histories book collection, also housed within the Central Library,  became an invaluable resource in completing this task. These books helped to uncover the timeline of Manchester’s rich aviation history.

Barton Exhibition

It was import to take care when handling this box of treasures. Some of the maps and documents were extremely fragile. Patience and care became a crucial aspect in the research process. Understanding how to handle archive material was an absolute must, especially with so many materials packed tightly together.

Barton Exhibition

After the painstaking task of opening this Aladdin’s cave – we were able to select some of the most eye catching and rare items for the digital exhibition.We found some beautiful early  maps of the aerodrome  dating back to the 1930’s – one of which was used for the exhibition. A personal favorite was this retro air show leaflet from 1979.

Barton Aerodrome, Air Show Flyer 1979

Another rare find was this incredible tablecloth from the airport hotel.

Barton Airport Table Cloth, 1970

With these special collections now selected, we create a digital copy of the material to feature within the digital exhibition.In order to do this we digitise the archival material using a high tech scanner.

Barton Exhibition

Once a digital copy of the material is created, we can upload this straight to the exhibition.  We also selected some of the originals to be displayed  within the exhibition case.

Barton Exhibition

The Manchester local images collection held a multitude of early photographs of the Airport.This photographic collection of historic places within Greater Manchester is free to access. We found lots of exciting  early images of the Airport, the most exciting being an early photograph of the aerodrome being built in 1929.

Aviation, Barton Airport, under construction, Manchester 1929

Another great find was an aerial picture of one of the aerodromes spectacular air shows in 1932. These fantastic images were added to the digital photographic gallery as part of the ‘Industry and Innovation’ exhibit.

Aviation, Barton, Manchester Airport, National Aviation Day, Sir Alan Cotham's visit, aerial view, Manchester 10/06/1932

With all the documents added to both the display case and interactive gallery, we were finally able to make the digital space live. The Barton Airport exhibit is now open to the public. The exhibit is currently on display within the ‘Industry and Innovation’ digital space within the Central Library.