IT is now known as Durham Tees Valley Airport, but it started life as RAF Goosepool in 1939, when the Government bought wet farmland on the outskirts of Middleton St George, home to a gaggle of geese, and built an aerodrome.

It opened in January 1941, became known as RAF Middleton St George and for much of the war was the base of Canadian airmen – in fact, the Canadian government paid for the upkeep of the aerodrome.

After the war, the RAF used MSG as a training aerodrome, until 1964 when the Ministry of Defence sold it to local authorities for £340,000. They spent £110,000 re-equipping the airport for civilian use and £506,000 constructing the passenger terminal.

The first civilian flight from the newly renamed Teesside International Airport – actually, the earliest incarnation of this name had a hyphen in the middle of Tees-side – was on April 18, 1964, the day after the RAF had departed. It was a Mercury Airlines trip to Manchester.

This means that last year was the airport's 50th anniversary, which appears to have passed unremarked. Belatedly, Memories has delved into The Northern Echo archive and found some pictures from the heady days five decades ago when civilians took over the military airport with great hopes of taking Tees-side into the new jet age.

The Northern Echo:

ALL ABOARD: The first employees of the new civilian airport, which still has the name Middleton St George, on the control tower. The picture was taken on October 6, 1964

The Northern Echo:

NAME CHANGE: This picture of the control tower was taken in July 1965 and shows the new name of the airport, complete with a hyphen in the middle