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Municipal Hangar at Shoreham Airport

A Grade II Listed Building in Old Shoreham, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8331 / 50°49'59"N

Longitude: -0.2915 / 0°17'29"W

OS Eastings: 520411

OS Northings: 105116

OS Grid: TQ204051

Mapcode National: GBR HMD.R3X

Mapcode Global: FRA B68W.XYV

Plus Code: 9C2XRPM5+6C

Entry Name: Municipal Hangar at Shoreham Airport

Listing Date: 20 August 2007

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392207

English Heritage Legacy ID: 503030

Location: Lancing, Adur, West Sussex, BN43

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Lancing

Built-Up Area: Old Shoreham

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Shoreham Beach Good Shepherd

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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VR2 hangar at Shoreham Airport, erected by the firm of Boulton & Paul of London and Norfolk, 1935 with some repair after World War II bomb damage and late-C20 modifications. Steel-framed with brick and concrete brick infill and corrugated asbestos-cement sheeting with some glazing.

EXTERIOR: A twin-span structure with two ridges and two sets of main doors opening to the north west. There is a continuous lean-to along the east side and the west side of the hangar, both of which appear to be original (and evident in 1930s photographs) although perhaps rebuilt in part following wartime damage, while the lean-to along the south side appears to be a later addition. The hangar roof is clad in asbestos-cement corrugated sheeting, with a line of glazing bars at the top and bottom of each ridge span, making a total of six full, and two half, bays of glazing as well as the two sloping end walls. The main doors are steel framed, multiple-leaved sliding doors clad in corrugated steel which allow almost the whole of the north side of the building to be accessed, as originally designed. The lean-to structures have roofs of asbestos sheet cladding, metal-frame casement windows and doors; those to the east and west are original, with steel angle frames connecting with the steel uprights of the main hangar, while that to the south is a later addition. The brick electricity sub-station in south west corner is later and not of special interest.

INTERIOR: The walls of the hangar have concrete brick or brick infill, butting up to the original steel frame. The roof structure is of bolted steel angle frame trusses with steel purlins. The floor is reinforced concrete slabs.

HISTORY: Shoreham began use as an airfield in 1910. Notable pioneer aviators used the airfield, such as Harold Piffar who flew his experimental Humming Bird biplane here in 1910. The airfield was properly established in 1911 as the Brighton (Shoreham) Aerodrome, and was the venue for major flying events such as the Circuit of Europe and the Round Britain races. At this time wooden hangars were used. The aerodrome saw service in World War I as a Royal Flying Corps training base, and it became the centre for Cecil Pashley's new flying club, which was well established by 1926.

In 1928 Sir Alan Cobham, a leading promoter of civil aviation, became involved in developing Shoreham as an airport. He was engaged by the local authorities to survey possible sites for airports, and he chose the original Shoreham field. The local council bought the airfield for development as a commercial airport and it constructed the main terminal building between 1934 and 1936 to the plans of the architect R Stavers Tiltman, who specialised in airport design. The hangar was constructed in 1935. The airport was officially opened on 13 June 1936.

Britain's principal civil airport was established as London Air Port at the Croydon Aerodrome and completely rebuilt in 1927-28 with an impressive combined terminal and control tower, and airport entrance lodge. The growth of Britain's civil air transport services in the following decade, however, meant that a series of local and regional airports were also needed. Britain's first municipal airport was opened at Wythenshawe, Manchester in May 1929, a year after the United States of America's opened in Newark, New Jersey. A flurry of airports were established in most of the UK's major towns within the next decade: Nottingham, Blackpool and Hull followed in 1930 and Bristol, Plymouth and Portsmouth gained airports by 1931. By the end of this decade, another 36 towns had established municipal airports, including, of course Brighton, Hove and Worthing at Shoreham. The main airport for London was opened in 1936 at Gatwick Aerodrome, with its unique 'Beehive' control tower and passenger terminal forming the original focus. Also worth mentioning is Liverpool's civil airport at Speke, acclaimed as Britain's most architectural aviation enterprise in the period, and also the largest when it was completed in 1939. Shoreham airport's terminal building and hangar represent a significant survival from this important period in the development of civil aviation.

Following the completion of the terminal building and hangar, scheduled flying services at Shoreham were increased. Shoreham continued to be a venue for air shows, and it was visited by many aviation celebrities including Amy Johnson (the first woman aviator to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930) and Charles Lindbergh (aviation promoter renowned for a solo Atlantic crossing in 1927).

Shoreham airport had a notable role during the Second World War, being especially heavily engaged during the Battle of Britain in 1940. In 1937, the Air Ministry decided that Shoreham should be used to train RAF Volunteer Reserves, and at the outbreak of war the airfield replaced Croydon as the country's main international civil airport. But by May 1940 this role ceased and Shoreham was used instead by 225 Squadron for anti-invasion patrols. During the Battle of Britain in 1940 it also served as an emergency landing ground for damaged aircraft, and for a short time was home to the Fighter Interception Unit from Tangmere, and to a special Hurricane flight (422) - later to become 96 Fighter Squadron. Later in 1941 it was a base for 277 Air Sea Rescue Squadron. Operation Jubilee (the 1942 raid on Dieppe) was planned in the terminal building at Shoreham. In the preparation for the Normandy landings in 1944 the airfield was host to a newly formed French fighter squadron.

In 1941 the hangar was damaged by bombing; all the cladding was blown off while leaving the framework intact. Two blister hangars were erected inside the frame, and the hangar continued in service. It was, however, repaired in 1950, and subsequently used by the light aircraft manufacturer, F G Miles Ltd for their aviation component fabrication business. In 1962 F G Miles Ltd merged with Auster and became Beagle Aircraft Ltd, which used the hangar as a machine tool shop. Beagle Aircraft Ltd specialised in producing light aircraft, and won a number of flying races. In 1970 Beagle Aircraft went out of production, and the following year the airfield was handed back to the local authority as a municipal airport.

Julian C Temple and Paul Francis (1994), New Guidelines for Listing Civil Airfield Buildings in England.
Paul Francis (1996), British Military Airfield Architecture.
Savills (March 2007), Representations to English Heritage on behalf of Erinaceous Group plc regarding the municipal hangar building at Shoreham Airport.
Peter Roberts (2006), Shoreham Airport A Brief History.
Paul Smith (2001), Berlin, Liverpool, Paris: Airport Architecture of the Thirties.

The Municipal Hangar of 1935 at Shoreham Airport is designated for the following reasons:
* As a relatively uncommon VR2 hangar design with a distinctive double-span form and roof profile, which although not innovative or technologically unusual for its date, is representative of contemporary inter-war trends in hangar design.
* Despite some rebuilding and modification following damage sustained in World War II, the essential structure and form of the mid-1930s hangar is original.
* The hangar has special group value for its relationship with the contemporary Modern Movement style designated terminal building. These are the only two original buildings at the airport and their functional interdependence remains clear, as does the deferential yet confident way the massive hangar sits beside the terminal.
* As part of an inter-war ensemble that bears witness to the phenomenal growth of civil aviation in this period, a pioneering and audacious episode of considerable historic interest that is otherwise recognised in very few designated sites.

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