Site Records

SiteName: Gatwick Airport - Passenger Subway

The Beehive
Beehive Ring Road
Crawley, West Sussex

Sub Brit site visit September 1995

[Source: Nick Catford]

Gatwick Airport began life as the Surrey Aero Club in 1930. In 1932 the club was bought by Morris Jackman who wanted to turn it into a commercial airport. He eventually persuaded a small airline operating domestic and international services to transfer from its Essex airport. He also needed a terminal building and following a chance conversation with his father the idea of a circular building was conceived.

The terminal was completed in the spring of 1936. Not only was it the first circular airport passenger terminal in the world but it also achieved a patent on account of the moving parts; the telescopic canopies which radiated out from the terminal to the aircraft. In addition, the

Southern Railway had opened an airport station on the Victoria - Brighton line in September 1935 and this was linked to the terminal by a 130 yard long tunnel so visitors to the airport could remain undercover from the time they left London Victoria until the time they boarded an aircraft.

Scheduled services began from the new terminal in May 1936 with the transfer of the London services of British Airways Ltd

During the 1939-45 war, the airport was requisitioned for the RAF, the terminal building becoming the Station Headquarters of various Army Co-operation and other squadrons. It was during the war years that the building became known as the 'Beehive'. Gatwick was in the Kenley Sector of No. 11 Group Fighter Command.

Photo:Inside The Beehive, the steps on the left lead to the tunnel
Photo by Nick Catford

When Gatwick was decommissioned in 1946 the future of the aerodrome remained in doubt. The government decided to operate Gatwick as a charter airport for an experimental 6 months and in 1952 they approved the development of Gatwick as an additional airport to serve the capital with a new terminal to the north on the site of the old Gatwick Racecourse which had opened in 1891 and closed in 1940. When Gatwick was re-opened in 1958, the Beehive found itself cut off from the main airport by the re-routed A23 road. Gatwick Airport Station closed on 28th May 1958 and was a replaced by a new station on the site of the old Gatwick Racecourse station a mile to the north.

Photo:Looking west towards the terminal
Photo by Nick Catford

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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