Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Adur (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 20469 05171




II* Airport terminal building opened 1936, by the architect, R Stavers Hessell Tiltman. It is steel-framed partly in cement rendered block and partly in reinforced concrete. Some later alterations of C20 date. The plan of the building is that of a central block with flanking wings the ends of which project to the south.

EXTERIOR: The south front, where passengers arrive by land, features a central pavilion, with flanking wings and southwards projecting ends. In front of each wing is a single storey block in re-entrant angles. The central pavilion is three storeys high with a porch and full width canopy on two columns at ground floor level and a recessed entrance. Above is a dropped narrow window surmounted by sun-ray moulding, rising through the centre in a shallow niche, and two sets of small rectangular flanking windows. The wings are two storied with strip windows on the first floor of the inner wings and blank ends to the projections. There is a single storey late C20 extension to the restaurant kitchen on the left inner wing.

The north elevation, facing the airfield, is also symmetrical and has a central, square projecting air traffic control tower, of three storeys, surmounted by the original control room (now used as manager's office), with full-width glazing on each side except to the south where there is a small extension, and an all-glass observation/air traffic control room above (replacing the original smaller observation room). At the base of the tower the canopied entrance opens to a rear viewing area. The curvilinear wings at either side are two storeys each with an outer block at each end supporting an outer iron staircase. There are strip windows in the flanking wings, which follow round the curved ends of the wings, and rectangular windows in the outer blocks.

INTERIOR: The interior has much of its original streamlined Moderne decoration surviving as shown by a comparison with the early photographs displayed in the building. The ground floor foyer and reception area, entered from the south, has original doors to the bar and restaurant to the left and a corridor to the right. Behind the entrance to the front is a double staircase to the upper floors. The reception area retains its original reception desk, with original doors to the rear viewing area and a fluted cornice. A central well gives views to the balcony above with a streamlined parapet, topped by a wooden hand rail, and a saucer dome in the centre of the ceiling above this, decorated with red aeroplanes. The corridor to the right dog-legs to the front of the building where a number of smaller rooms retain their original dimensions, door surrounds and some doors. A large room with original doors, which opens off the corridor to the rear of the building, and is now a conference room, was originally the assembly point for passengers as an arrivals and departure area. The restaurant, to the left of the foyer, was also for passengers' departures, although the kitchens had always been there, and there was originally a dumb waiter from the kitchen to a lounge on the first floor. The restaurant is in its original condition with bar, doors, windows, streamlined cornice and boxed girders in the ceiling. Original parquet flooring can be found on the ground floor in the foyer and some also in the restaurant. The stairs to the first floor are polished stone with original tile work on the treads. There is a dropped narrow window, with wrought ironwork decoration, lighting the first and second floor landings.

The stairs open to a rectangular gallery on the first floor, with corridors to left and right. The gallery features the saucer dome in the centre with original rectangular lights to either side with geometric patterned spacer bars. A band of wave-moulded plaster work surrounds the gallery in its upper wall. The rooms opening off the corridor have some later partitioning, but some original wainscoting, a fireplace, and the remains of the moulding in the ceiling for the former South Coast Flying Club bar of 1936. The second floor consists of living accommodation with original door surrounds and restored doors. The third floor offices are only 15 years old, but behind them on the north is the original control room, which is now used as the manager's office. Above is a late 1980s all-glass observation/air traffic control room.

HISTORY: The Shoreham Airport Terminal was built by James Bodie Ltd between 1934 and 1935 and was designed by the architect R. Stavers Hessell Tiltman (1888-1968). Stavers Tiltman had offices in Brighton and was architect to Southern Aircraft Ltd. Tiltman was a successful airport designer in the 1930s, responsible for several major commercial airport designs in Britain; notably Belfast-Harbour Airport (1939) and the Leeds-Bradford Joint Municipal Airport at Yeadon (1939), although the original terminal buildings of the latter have now gone. He also had a design proposed for the Tudor House public house in Shoreham in the RIBA Library Drawings Collection, but the public house does not appear to have been built. The terminal building was built using cubic and curvilinear forms in the streamlined Moderne style that flourished in this period, and was acclaimed by his contemporaries when the South Eastern Society of Architects held their annual meeting at the airport in July 1936. The terminal building came into operation in 1936.

Shoreham was one of the centres of early British aviation (prominent other centres being Hendon and Brooklands), beginning about 1910, and is the only one which is still active as an aviation centre. It became properly established as an aerodrome in 1911 as Brighton (Shoreham) Aerodrome, and was a major venue for flying events such as the Circuit of Europe and the Round Britain races. During the First World War it was a Royal Flying Corps training base; after the war it was used by a flying club. In 1928 the aviation entrepreneur, Sir Alan Cobham became involved in promoting Shoreham as an airport, and the three local civic authorities of Brighton, Hove and Worthing took up this idea. During the 1920s and 1930s international civil aviation was seen as promising major economic and prestigious advantages by forward thinking civic authorities. In 1930 Cobham (who was also involved in the design of Liverpool Speke airport) was engaged by the local authorities to survey possible sites for airfields in the area, and he selected the original airfield at Shoreham for the new municipal airport. The local authorities bought the airfield, work commencing on the terminal building in 1934. The airport terminal building was built at a cost of £55,000, was completed by 1935 and officially opened in 1936. At that time the buildings on site were a main hangar, workshops and six private lock-up hangars. With the completion of the terminal building scheduled flying services were increased. Channel Air Ferries and Jersey Airways flew to destinations such as Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester, Jersey, Le Touquet and Deauville. Shoreham was visited by many aviation celebrities including Amy Johnson and Charles Lindbergh, who helped to maintain its prominence as a renowned centre of aviation.

In 1937 the Air Ministry decided that Shoreham should be used to train RAF Volunteer Reserves. At the outbreak of World War II much international air traffic was re-routed to Shoreham from Croydon, but by May 1940 these civil aviation duties were taken away and it was used by 225 Squadron for anti-invasion patrols. During the Battle of Britain Shoreham became an emergency landing ground for damaged aircraft, and for a short time was home to the Fighter Interception Unit from Tangmere and to 422 Special Hurricane flight - later to become 96 Fighter Squadron. Later in 1941 it housed 277 Air Sea Rescue Squadron, and Operation Jubilee (the raid on Dieppe, 1942) was planned in Shoreham's terminal building. In the preparation for the Normandy landings in 1944 the airfield was host to a newly formed French Fighter squadron

In the 1950s and 1960s the airfield was used for making aviation components, latterly by Beagle Aircraft Ltd., which entered races and won the Schneider Trophy in 1986 and King's Cup Races of 1989 and 1994. In 1970 Beagle Aircraft went out of production and the airfield was handed back to the Council in 1971 to become an airport once again. A revived schedule of passenger services was continued until the late 1980s. The terminal building is substantially intact, but a few changes have been made over the years, notably to the control tower. The profile of the control tower was altered by a small extension to the south of the original control room. Also the original observation room (a small glass-enclosed structure on the top of the control tower) was replaced in 1986-87 by an all-glass observation room, following storm damage. There was also a programme of refurbishment in the early 1990s.

Due to its distinctive period style the terminal building has been used in a number of television and film dramas, including several 'Poirot' episodes, a film version of 'Oh What a Lovely War' and in 2005 was transformed into Paris Le Bourget airport in a scene in 'The Da Vinci Code'.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The airport terminal building at Shoreham is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * The terminal building is an unusual survival from the early days of civil aviation transport and its landscape setting with adjacent original airfield and hangar make it particularly rare and of more than special interest. * Despite some later changes the original plan of the airport, both internal and external, is intact. This type of survival is very rare for a working airport, and here it results in a characterful design that is really quite special. * The design of the exterior and interior make it a Moderne style example of a 1930s airport terminal building.

SOURCES: Peter Roberts (2006) Shoreham Airport A Brief History, Julian C Temple and Paul Francis (1994) New Guidelines for Listing Civil Airfield Buildings in England Scientific coordination-Paul Smith Bernard Toulier, Authors-Roger Bowdler, Gabi Dolff-Bonekamper, Bob Hawkins, Christelle Inizan, Bernard Rignault, Paul Smith, Bernard Toulier (2000) Berlin Templehof Liverpool Speke Paris Le Bourge Airport Architecture of the Thirties Alastair Forsyth Buildings for the Age new building types 1900-1939, Richard Andrews MA Dip Arch FSA RIBA AABC (2007) Terminal Building Shoreham Airport, West Sussex Assessment of Architectural & Historic Interest


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Forsyth, A, Buildings for the Age, (1982)
Roberts, P, Shoreham Airport. A brief history, (2006)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 21 Aug 1999
Reference: IOE01/02072/24
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Robin Earl. Source Historic England Archive
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