When Humberside Airport opened in the 70s – and briefly had a different name

It’s the divisional name that never goes away, but it wasn’t always so for North Lincolnshire Airport – if only briefly.

It is now over a quarter of a century since the controversial county of Humberside was abolished after 22 years. Although it has been around longer than it used to be, the legacy of authority that merged the North and South Banks lives on in the name of the police, fire brigade, BBC radio station and the local airport.

When a light aircraft landed at the former RAF base at Kirmington, on March 26, 1974, it made aviation history in the region as the first to land at the region’s new civilian airport – only then was it called Kirmington Airport. Less than a week later Lindsey County Council was abolished and replaced by the Humberside Authority. It wasn’t long before the airport was renamed to reflect the historic change.

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Aerial view from 1973 shows Kirmington Airport (Humberside) construction work in progress at the former RAF bomber station

In this month of June, the first differences of political opinion began to appear on the new installation. Humberside County Council’s planning committee failed to accept a bid to have the title of the airport changed. Councilor Violet Lockwood, of Wootton, said Kirmington Parish Council wanted the name of the village included in the title as it gave an indication of which bank the airport was on.



This aerial view from The Telegraph from 1975 shows the Humberside Airport terminal building in the foreground, while nearby (centre left) is the hangar built by Humber Airways.  Near the hangar is the Lease-Air operations center
This aerial view from The Telegraph from 1975 shows the Humberside Airport terminal building in the foreground, while nearby (centre left) is the hangar built by Humber Airways. Near the hangar is the Lease-Air operations center

However, Councilor Alex Clarke, of Hull, the chairman of the committee said the move was made too late in the day. He explained that the Civil Aviation Authority rejected the county’s suggested name of “Humberside (Kirmington)” and that it should simply be known as “Humberside”.



Civic leaders and dignitaries from Humberside, seen before leaving Kirmington on the inaugural flight to Amsterdam.  They include the Mayor and Mayoress of Grimsby, County.  and Mrs. Ivor Hanson;  the Mayor and Mayoress of Hull, County.  and Mrs. Lawrie Johnson;  the Mayor and Mayoress of Glanford, County.  George Hewson and Miss DM Selby;  the Mayor and Mayoress of Scunthorpe, County.  and Mrs. Bill Martin, and the Chairman of Humberside County Council, Coun.  JN Franklin and his wife
Civic leaders and dignitaries from Humberside, seen before leaving Kirmington on the inaugural flight to Amsterdam. They include the Mayor and Mayoress of Grimsby, County. and Mrs. Ivor Hanson; the Mayor and Mayoress of Hull, County. and Mrs. Lawrie Johnson; the Mayor and Mayoress of Glanford, County. George Hewson and Miss DM Selby; the Mayor and Mayoress of Scunthorpe, County. and Mrs. Bill Martin, and the Chairman of Humberside County Council, Coun. JN Franklin and his wife

Despite the eventual name change, credit for the project, costing over £270,000, went to Lindsey County Council’s Planning Committee. The idea really started to take off in 1969 when Lindsey brought in 237 acres of land for £85,374.

A further £187,000 was then invested in development work including resurfacing runways, installing airfield lighting, building a terminal building and building a taxiway to serve businesses wishing to settle in Kirmington. In 1974 Kirmington was the South Bank base of Hull Humber Airways Ltd, which had four aircraft – Islanders and Piper Aztecs – for charter work, the former being only nine seats.



The security and customs building at Humberside Airport.  Published in December 1975
The security and customs building at Humberside Airport. Published in December 1975

Lease Air, a charter and air taxi company with a flight school at the airport, also operated out of Kirmington at the time. During its first year of operation, nearly 17,000 aircraft landings and takeoffs were recorded at the airport. Of these movements, 9,415 were for training purposes, 7,452 were made by commercial and private aircraft, while the number of passengers carried was 6,601.



The popularity of Humberside Airport in Kirmington was steadily growing in March 1975. One of the biggest charter flights from the airport left for Rotterdam on a four-engine Heron.  A group from Spurn Shipping, of Immingham, took part in the two-day trip organized by Peter's Aviation
The popularity of Humberside Airport in Kirmington was steadily growing in March 1975. One of the biggest charter flights from the airport left for Rotterdam on a four-engine Heron. A group from Spurn Shipping, of Immingham, took part in the two-day trip organized by Peter’s Aviation

The first commercial scheduled flight was to Amsterdam in 1975 when a new passenger terminal opened, a destination scheduled services are still offered to and from. At the time the route was operated by Air Anglia.

After about a decade, 100,000 passengers a year were recorded as using the airport, and in 1992 the main runway was extended to its current length of 7,205 feet (2,196 m) to allow larger aircraft to function.



This is Humberside Airport in 1978 and the car park is busy and development is ongoing.  The passenger terminal is open and there is a plane waiting to be boarded
This is Humberside Airport in 1978 and the car park is busy with development going on. The passenger terminal is open and there is a plane waiting to be boarded

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