Hangar 3 gets a new spark of life

If you’ve ever strolled down Wirraway road you would have travelled past sawtooth roofs, vast ceilings and walls hosting tales of another time. A collection of historically significant buildings along a remnant of the original northern alignment of Bulla Road that carry immense presence, and still provide a critical use for the Airport today.

Amongst them is Hangar 3 at 250 Wirraway Road, one of the most iconic buildings at Essendon Fields and a recent recipient of a major electrical overhaul to remain serviceable for the next generation of operation.

Built in 1937 as Ansett Airways Limited’s first hangar at Essendon Airport, Hangar 3 is the oldest surviving Ansett building in Australia as well as being one of the oldest buildings at Essendon Fields Airport.

In its heyday the hangar was considered state-of-the-art, designed by Melbourne architects Seabrook & Fildes, and the building was duplicated soon after the first section was completed to allow for Ansett’s early growth. It’s a steel-framed double hangar, with a double-gabled C I roof and steel sliding doors. The south-eastern gable-end was modified in the 1960s to accept larger aircraft.

Ansett saw a great deal of its early growth from Hangar 3, with the airline’s expansion pathway including a merge with ANA in the 1950s and a dramatic increase to its domestic airline schedules across Australia.

Today the hangar is still used for aviation services by a number of customers, who not only enjoy its prime position adjacent to the runway, but also its rich history.

Essendon Fields made the decision in 2022 to commit almost half a million dollars to complete an electrical rewire of the hangar, which included all new cabling, lighting, switch boards, a new electrical supply feed from the street, and upgraded emergency exit and safety lighting displays.

Project Manager at Essendon Fields, Lucas Gatt, stated that the works were undertaken safely and ensured aviation customers were still able to operate from the hangar to minimise disruption.

“The works were completed just shy of Christmas and ensure that there is a sustainable future for this important building in Australia’s aviation history,” said Project Manager Lucas Gatt.

The story of Ansett’s history at the airport is part of the Airways Museum at Essendon Fields which is open every Tuesday to the public. More information and trading hours can be found here.