Two of Peel’s Manchester heritage sites recognised for national importance

Citi Airport Manchester, Peel

Two of Manchester’s historic landmarks, the Barton Aqueduct and City Airport, formerly known as Barton Aerodrome, have been awarded Transport Heritage Site plaques for their national contributions to transport and engineering.

Both owned by The Peel Group, City Airport and Barton Aqueduct have been honoured with the renowned ‘Red Wheel’ plaques, issued by the Transport Trust, the charity that works to recognise the unique transport heritage of the country.

The plaques have been awarded based on the important contributions both sites have made to transport and engineering in the local area and nationally, with both holding firsts in their fields.

The Barton Aqueduct, first built by James Brindley in 1761 and rebuilt in 1893 by Edward Leader Williams, was modified from a masonry structure to its current swing construction to accommodate seafaring ships using the Manchester Ship Canal. Upon its opening – and to this day – it was the first, and only, swing aqueduct in the world, and is still used today by narrowboats traversing the Bridgewater Canal.

Peter Parkinson, the Bridgewater Canal General Manager, said: “It’s fantastic to receive this recognition for the famous Barton Aqueduct Swing Bridge. The aqueduct is a historic and unique engineering marvel which carries the Bridgewater Canal across the Manchester Ship Canal. We hope that the Red Wheel plaque will encourage more people to visit the aqueduct and see this fascinating piece of Manchester’s history in the making.”

The Barton Aerodrome, now known as City Airport, was Britain’s first municipal airport. It opened in 1930, predating Manchester Ringway (now Manchester Airport) by eight years, and has the oldest continually used control tower in the UK, in operation since 1932.

Nick Duriez, Airport Director at City Airport, said:  “We’re honoured that City Airport’s unique heritage has been recognised by the Transport Trust with the award of a Red Wheel. As a small airfield, it is a great tribute that our part in transforming municipal air travel is recognised. We’re also pleased to see our control tower receive the award of the oldest continually used control tower in the UK. These accolades, I’m sure, will put City Airport on the map for those interested in air history”.

The ‘Red Wheel’ plaques were unveiled by Sir William McAlpine, President of The Transport Trust, who said: “Our Red Wheel plaques commemorate Britain's rich and globally important legacy in the development of transport and highlight key locations of engineering and transport importance. Both Barton Aqueduct and City Airport (Barton Aerodrome) are hugely significant in Britain’s history of transport and we’re delighted to award these plaques for current and future generations to see.”

To find out more about City Airport & Heliport visit  and for Barton Aqueduct and Bridgewater Canal visit

Video showing Barton Aqueduct Swing Bridge in action: