Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week may look like a doctor’s waiting room, but it is actually the international departure gate at Manchester’s Ringway Airport in February 1954.

Instead of glitzy duty-free shops, cafes and restaurants, there are canvas chairs and a few pictures hung on the walls. Passengers were allowed to smoke before going through the doors to the airport apron and the waiting plane.

Ringway changed a lot during the 1950s. Buildings were refurbished, ground approach radar was installed and the runway was extended to allow larger aircraft to be handled.

In 1954, the year our photo was taken, British European Airways (BEA) launched an ambitious expansion programme to provide business travellers with an alternative means of getting to and from London.

The train took 3hrs 30mins to go from city centre to city centre. The plane could do the same journey in 1hr 25mins, plus the time it took to travel to or from the airport at either end.

The plane was more expensive at nearly £4 one way, while British Rail charged just over £2 for a first class ticket.

But the flights proved popular. By the end of 1956, BEA was carrying 60,000 passengers on the route.

In December 1954, Ringway reached the milestone of carrying its millionth passenger since reopening after the war in 1946.

The bright new departure area at Manchester Airport looks very different today, however much air travel has been disrupted by Coronavirus restrictions.

Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester published to mark the 150th anniversary of the M.E.N.

It’s on sale in our online shop and via our order hotline on 01928 503777.