Vintage Photographs Capture the Experiences of Passengers at Manchester Airport in the 1980s

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A poignant look back at the passenger experience at Manchester Airport as seen through the lens of Shirley Baker thirty years ago, having spent a day at the airport in 1987 capturing the experiences of passengers using the airport. The images show Manchester Airport in all its 80’s glory – curly perms, corduroy trousers, pay phones, oodles of cheap duty free, and smoking in the departure lounge. 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.

Born in Salford, Baker was famed for her street photography of working class inner-city areas. She studied photography at Manchester College of Technology and then the London College of Printing. She started work as an industrial photographer for fabric manufacturers, Courtaulds before working freelance and as a writer and photographer on various magazines, books and newspapers.

The photos of Manchester Airport were discovered in the archives at Central Library. They explore work created after Shirley Baker was approached by the Documentary Photography Archive (DPA), who were seeking to commission photographers to grow their collection of contemporary work.

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