Perth Control Tower No.1

By the late 1930s the limitations of Perth's Maylands aerodrome to accommodate progressively larger aircraft were apparent. Land for a larger aerodrome at nearby Guildford was purchased in 1938, but the Second World War intervened before development could really get underway and the aerodrome was taken over and developed for military use. Australian National Airways and Qantas began services from Guildford in May 1944, but it wasn't until 1946 that the majority of civil services transferred from Maylands.

As Guildford had opened for some civil movements prior to the end of the Second World War, civil Air Traffic Controllers began to operate at the aerodrome from late 1944 alongside RAAF Controllers. The USAAF and RAAF were still the main aerodrome users until after 1945. Aerodrome Control was done from 'The Hut at the Apex' (of the runways): complete with three-holer deep-sinker toilet facilities! A retired Controller recalled that "When the weather was warm and sunny, boxes and seats would be taken outside the hut, the duty Controller of course staking his position within earshot of the crackling radio receiver and telephone."

With both MacRobertson Miller Airways (MMA) and Airlines WA still operating from Maylands, the last scheduled arrival at Guildford was at 7 pm when the regular DC-3 from Adelaide and all stops was due to land. As this aeroplane was not scheduled to leave until 7 am the next morning, there were often no movements at Guildford during the night or early mornings. Therefore, a Guildford Controller was always rostered for duty at Maylands to attend to the early morning scheduled departures there. After the departures were away, the Maylands Controller usually proceeded to Guildford to take over from the man who had been on night duty.


The first civil Control Tower was erected at Guildford in 1946 and was of fairly standard construction for the period, being a glassed cab on a wooden latticework support structure. The wonderful photo above (and cropped on the Tower, left) was taken on 4 August 1960 and shows the first Control Tower, as well as some of the period vehicles and equipment nearby.

Notably, the windows are canted outward to reduce reflections in the cab, a feature of 'modern' Control Towers. Also of interest is the mast with yellow cane signal ball and the duty runway sign ('02') on the balcony.

Retired Perth-based pilot with MMA Captain Reg Adkins comments: "The Darling Range is in the background. Close proximity of aircraft parking near the Tower is suggested by the aircraft steps. Free & easy car parking by the fences. And the Duty Runway is 02, so there must have been a Nor'easter blowing!"


The overview below, dating from 1954, shows the airport terminal and hangar area. The Tower can be clearly seen at bottom left. Position 1 is the location from which the photo above was taken. Position 2 indicates the location from which the photo at the bottom of the page was taken. Position 3 is the hut that became the international passenger terminal when services to South Africa commenced in 1952. Position 4 is the large Australian National Airlines (ANA) hangar with ANA's domestic passenger terminal to the right. Position 5 is the MMA hangar and domestic terminal for its internal WA services, and position 6 is the site of the yet-to-be-built new passenger terminal.



Judging by the vehicles, the photos above and the two below of Perth Tower date from the late 1940s. The photo above looks down the apron past the arched-roof hut that would become the international passenger terminal a few years later to the large ANA hangar.

The photo below is a close-up of the Tower cab. Of note is the anemometer on the left side of the roof. These instruments would later be normally sited remotely to improve the accuracy of their readings.



The photo below was taken from position 1 in the overview above and can be compared with the image at the top of the page from more than a decade later.



In the photo above, probably dating from the late 1940s, an Avro Anson taxies while an unidentified Air Traffic Controller in the Tower records its arrival time in the Tower log.



The images above and below show Air Traffic Controller Kevin Beetson at work in Perth Tower in 1954. In the image below, Beetson is switching on the taxiway lights from the large selector and tell-tale box, seen to his left in the photo above. It's pretty quiet, judging by the three flight progress strips in the bay under his left hand!






Last up, above, comes a rear view of Perth Tower taken from position 2 on the main airport access road. This photo, dating from the mid-1950s, gives a good view of the sheds at the base of the Tower, though what their function was is not clear.


(Photos: 1,2-John Havercroft via Reg Adkins; rest-CAHS collection)

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