Manchester City Council

Shirley Baker exhibition set for take off at Wythenshawe Forum Library

Jet back in time as a free photography exhibition is set to launch at Wythenshawe Forum Library showcasing how Manchester Airport and its passengers used to look 30 years ago.

Shirley Baker, the famous Manchester photographer, spent a day at the airport in 1987 capturing the experiences of passengers using the airport and a collection of 30 of these photographs will go on display in the library from Monday 4 June.

As well as capturing various areas of the airport, Baker’s photographs also show how people passed the time before a flight by playing cards and board games – a far cry from smart phones, tablets and kindles!  The style of passengers is also brought into focus with big hair and plenty of shell suits on show.

The airport’s famous chandeliers that used to hang in Terminal 1 also make an appearance, along with the historical - pre-mobile phone - phenomenon of people queuing to use public pay-phones, all dressed in iconic 1980's fashion.  

Born in Salford, Baker was famed for her street photography of working class inner-city areas. The photos of Manchester Airport were discovered in the library archives. They explore work created in the summer of 1987 after Shirley Baker was approached by the Documentary Photography Archive (DPA) who were seeking to commission photographers to grow their collection of contemporary work.

All the images are held by Archives+ at Central Library and the full commission can be viewed at

Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: "This engaging exhibition features just one of the countless fantastic collections of images held at Central Library's Archives+ Centre and it’s fitting that the exhibition is now to be shown in Wythenshawe, a community that has so many close connections to the airport.

"As you'd expect from photos taken during this period, there are giant mobile phones and plenty of classic eighties fashion statements to enjoy.  And if you were jetting off from Manchester Airport in the summer of 1987, you might even spot yourself or a family member in the frame."

In addition to a stock of best selling books, a wide range of services are available at Forum Library. The library hosts a number of advice sessions and community groups and the Jobclub offers support to help find and apply for the latest jobs. There’s a study zone, free WiFi, PC access, and there are also a number of regular educational and fun activities in the children’s library. A host of information about the area's heritage can be found in the library's local studies collections which feature an augmented reality frieze telling the history of Wythenshawe. And there's a free genealogy search for those wanting to trace their family tree.

For more information about Manchester’s libraries visit:

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?