Archerfield New Control Tower Construction - 1974

During 1973-75 a new Control Tower was constructed at Brisbane/Archerfield to replace the old 1940-vintage Tower on top of the Ops/Admin/Passenger Terminal building. The new Tower was sited on its own on the southern boundary of the aerodrome, across the aerodrome from the old Tower which was on the eastern boundary with most of the hangars.

The photo above shows the new Tower under construction in July 1974. The Tower is of concrete construction with the cab and service areas as an integrated pod on a single column. This type of Tower construction is more normally associated with major airports. No further Towers of this type were built at general aviation or regional airports for the next twenty years, a simpler style of metal-framed and clad construction being adopted instead.

The aerodrome chart below comes from the Visual Flight Guide - Aerodrome Information (VFG-AGA) Amendment 23 current 23 May 1974 and shows the location of both old and new Towers. Notable are the three sets of three parallel runways - standard for the general aviation airports at that time. Today (2010) the centre runways no longer exist, nor does the entire 13/31 set. The NDB has also been relocated closer to the aerodrome.


A long-retired Air Traffic Controller recalls "...after we moved to the new Tower, a fire escape device with an inertia braked rope/cable and a harness at each end was provided. The idea was that, in the event of an evacuation being necessary, one person would hook the unit to a special arm protruding over the balcony rail, slide the harness over their shoulders and place it under their arms - and step off the balcony. They would descend steadily to the ground (courtesy of an inertia-activated brake drum inside the rope pulley) and the harness on the other end of the rope would pass them on the way up and be brought to the balcony for the next evacuee just as the first person arrived at the ground.

Two of the ATCs decided it would be fun to try it out. It became regular entertainment...they would take turns on a quiet shift. Whilst one remained at the console, the other would descend to the ground in the escape harness, run back up the stairs and take over at the console while the other had his turn. It was used many, many times.

One day one of those ATCs was observed to have the inertia brake drum in a hundred pieces on the tower console. He explained that he had just read in the instructions that the device was only good for 6 descents and then must be sent away for a he was giving it a service. It wasn't used again after that: having determined that they had pushed their luck far enough it was packed away. I dearly hope it has been replaced."


Compare the aerodrome diagram above with aerial photos from 1965 and an aerodrome diagram from 1969


(Photo & Aerodrome diagram: CAHS collection)


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