GATWICK Airport celebrates 60 years since it was officially opened in its current form on Saturday.

Opened by Queen Elizabeth II on June 9 1958, it became the first airport in the world to combine air, road and train travel in one close-knit single unit.

The £7.8 million construction project in 1958 transformed Gatwick into a global travel hub.

Taking more than two and a half years to complete and marking a new beginning for air travel in UK, it was the first airport to have a direct railway link.

Andy Pule, head of terminal operations, said: “Throughout its history, Gatwick has remained at the forefront of innovation, investing billions over the years to ensure that we are constantly pushing the boundaries and delivering the best possible experience for our passengers.

“It’s been an unbelievable 60 years at Gatwick and we have had a magnificent impact in making air travel accessible to millions of people.

“Now, as we move into our seventh decade, we look ahead to continuing our success story.”

Increased passenger demand and the modern age of air travel, with the introduction of aircraft like the Jumbo Boeing 747-400, required three runway extensions in 1964, 1970 and 1973 - the latter enabled non-stop flights from the US West Coast to begin.

With an ever-increasing number of passenger planes arriving daily, Gatwick opened its new control tower in 1984, which at the time of completion was the tallest in the UK.

In the same year the Gatwick Express was launched.

In 1988 the Queen returned to open the £200m North Terminal, which in turn saw the main terminal renamed as the South.

Just ten years later, a fourth runway extension was required, with easyJet’s residence at the airport starting the following year in 1999.

The noughties began with extensions to both the North and South terminals, totalling £60m.

This was followed by Gatwick building the biggest air passenger bridge in the world, which totals 194m in length.

In 2012 new owners Global Infrastructure Partners announced a £2.5 billion investment programme.

That year also saw Emirates start its scheduled A380 service at Gatwick – making it one of the very few airports at the time that could accommodate the next generation of passenger air planes.

Four years later in 2016, Gatwick opened the world’s largest self-service bag drop zone.

Finally came the big move. Last year saw easyJet, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic all swap terminals – in just 72 hours – as part of the biggest operational reshuffle in Gatwick’s history.