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(a historical summary)by Ray Shephard (dec)Construction of the hangar commenced on 16 July 1934 for Qantas Empire Airways Ltd (QEA), measuring 100ft (30m) x 100ft (30m) with a head clearance of 20ft (

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QANTAS Empire Airways Ltd Hangar

(a historical summary)

by Ray Shephard (dec)

Construction of the hangar commenced on 16 July 1934 for Qantas Empire Airways Ltd (QEA), measuring 100ft (30m) x 100ft (30m) with a head clearance of 20ft (6m) and doors capable of opening full width to accommodate 4 'Empire mail planes' (de Havilland DH86s). On each side of the building, lean-to structures 30ft (10m) wide, running the full depth of 100ft (30m), were incorporated to be used as offices, storerooms and workshops. Provision was made to include ample skylights. Designer was Mr R Martin Wilson, ME, a Brisbane architect, and builder, Sidney Williams.

The hangar was constructed in 4 months at a cost of 6114 pound ($12,228), but erected 66ft (22m) too far west, in error, and discovered too late to rectify. (Main stanchions and lean-to had been erected in preparation for the roof trusses). In view of the stage reached, permission was granted for erection at its present position. The allotment was leased to QEA for 5 years commencing in July 1934, at 200 pound ($400) per annum., then later extended to December 1944. Guinea Airways Ltd (GAL) leased the hangar from QEA in October 1938, at 525 pound ($1050) per annum following GAL's rejection to purchase the hangar from QEA for 4000 pounds ($8,000). A fuel storage shed of corrugated iron cladding (measured 19ft by 11ft and orientated east-west by length) was erected a short time before March 1940, 50ft (15m) north of the hangar's western alignment. Still in situ it was used by the Shell Oil Co. The lease to GAL was current to November 1942, when the Japanese bombed Darwin on 19 February 1942. The hangar was badly damaged, and the allotment lease suspended by the Director General of Civil Aviation. The hangar was subsequently repaired, to the extent of being waterproof, and was used by Allied Works Council. The 32 fixed skylights of wire cast glass were not replaced. The Dept. of Civil Aviation (DCA) occupied the hanger as a mechanical workshop in August 1946. Stores were entrenched during October 1946, and an inflammable storeroom within the hangar in mid December 1946. A motor vehicle maintenance ramp was erected 9ft (3m) north of the western alignment of the hangar during November 1946 out of surplus metal torpedo cases. Subsequent lease agreements of Lot 5052, show rental of 375 pound ($750) per annum based on a valuation of 6200 pound ($12,400). In March 1954, the Dept. of Civil Aviation purchased the hangar for 4500 pound ($9,000).

A ducted extractor remains in place, externally on the eastern lean-to structure and was erected circa 1955 to supplement the location of the DCA carpenter's workshop.

The western lean-to structure was extended by 23ft (7m) to 53ft (17m) circa 1960 to expand the DCA stores area. In 1980, the Motor Vehicle Enthusiasts Club unsuccessfully attempted to lease the hangar from DCA who were no longer using the building. In 1992, the hangar was listed on the Register of the National Estate. On 21 April 1993, the hangar was listed on the Northern Territory Heritage Register.

On 28 November 1997, the Northern Territory Government through the Dept of Arts and Museums purchased the hangar from Air Services Australia (formally DCA).

In January 1999, the MVEC signed a lease, with the Dept of Arts and Museums, and commenced bringing the hangar back to a useful state.

During 2000, the corrugated galvanised iron on the eastern annex roof and walls was replaced and period (1930s) windows similar to those in a hangar at Archerfield (Qld) were incorporated in the eastern annex wall.

In late 2001 the corrugated galvanised iron on the roof and sliding doors of the main hangar was replaced with specially produced iron of the period. Skylights were reinstated.

In 2011 the skylights were again reinstated and emergency exit management lights etc were installed.

Page last updated: 20 March 2011 | 5739

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