Shoreham Airport

Not long ago, Shoreham Airport changed its name to Shoreham (Brighton City) Airport to raise its profile which confirmed what I have long suspected – hardly anybody knows where it is!

In October 1909, the Mayors of Brighton, Hove and Worthing began planning for a permanent aerodrome at Shoreham. In 1910, the amateur aviator, Hal Piffard moved the remains of his experimental flying machine from Ealing to the Shoreham fields at New Salts Farm. Many of the early greats of aviation soon followed. Construction of the distinctive Grade II Listed terminal building began in November 1934 and it was completed in just ten months.

The terminal building was designed by Mr Stavers Hessell Tiltman of Middle Street, Brighton, and was built using a steel frame, concrete and brick. It shares a great number of features with Embassy Court, Saltdean Lido, the Ocean Hotel and the De La Warr Pavilion– all great Modernist masterpieces. The lightly-coloured render, long runs of windows, smooth curves and crisp lines are its greatest assets. I prefer the interiors to the exteriors though on all of these examples. Their terrazzo floors, solid fittings and thoughtful lighting really do it for me. Unsurprisingly, it has captured the imagination of many film directors over the years. Remember the small French airport in The Da Vinci Code? It was our very own Shoreham Airport all along!

Air shows are the obvious time to visit Shoreham Airport but it’s easy any time due to its close proximity to the A27. More importantly though, there’s a great view from the bar of the planes against the backdrop of the splendid Lancing College! The current hard runway was built in 1982 to cure the flooding which had plagued the soft fields from the beginning. Less conspicuous is the Technical Centre of the automotive engineering firm, Ricardo UK, nearby. What goes on behind their doors is a closely-guarded secret but pretty exciting, I’m sure. The local police helicopter, obviously not requiring a runway, is based at Shoreham. All of the above make the oldest established airport in the UK well worth a visit.

It is in fact possible to fly to several worthwhile destinations from Shoreham including the Channel Islands and France. I often point out that it’s best to buy locally and soon I’ll get to put my money where my mouth is by flying from Shoreham Airport to Alderney for a holiday!