I am proud to have completed my Art Deco-style illustrations of Croydon Aerodrome, aka Croydon Airport.
I have created a landside version of Croydon Airport featuring a vintage style Bedford SB bus, and an airside version that features Handley Page 42 in flight and a more complex illustration of it against the of Croydon Airport.
What has struck me is how different Art Deco style buildings can be, and how they have evolved over the years. Below are the main differences I have observed.
Croydon Aerodrome was originally designed, constructed, and operated by the British Air Ministry Directorate-General of Works (AMDGW) for World War I in 1915. It became a commercial airport in 1925, in fact, the predecessor to London Heathrow Airport. It is a shame that architects within the British Air Ministry didn’t get a name check back then because I like to learn what other buildings inspired them, and what buildings they personally had a hand in designing.
The huge difference in Art Deco styles between both Croydon and Brighton City Airport interests me. Croydon Aerodrome looks more formal and less welcoming than Brighton City Airport. I think architectural ‘curves’ make buildings appear more friendly. As you would expect, a building created by a government organisation would be more ‘rigid’ and ‘official’. like a town hall.
I visited Croydon Aerodrome to get a feel for the history and enjoyed an interesting tour of the buildings by an enthusiastic guide. I enjoyed learning the history, especially about Amy Johnson and Jean Batten, who stood out amongst the men for incredible feats, such as flying to Australia. In fact, can you spot Amy Johnson’s personal belongings in my illustration?
The original photos show the building as being less white than it is now. I prefer white. As with all my art, I like to add an uplifting feel, so I include the best of the historic features in my creative efforts. I am currently adding the final touches to the illustration.
I will also be drawing Birmingham Airport and The Beehive Gatwick in due course, These remind me more of Brighton City Airport because they are curvy.
Handley Page 42
During my Croydon Aerodrome tour, I asked which aircraft was associated with the airport, and without hesitation, our guide said ‘the HP42). Wow. The HP42 is an architectural delight in itself and was certainly a challenge to draw. Especially at an angle.
Brighton City Airport
Brighton City Airport, originally built as Brighton Hove Worthing Municipal Airport, is a Grade II* listed building (significant historic building) listed in 1984. It was built by architect Stavers Hessell Tiltman (1888-1935) who also designed pubs for Rock Brewery (Brighton), Steyning Brewery, and Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries. In my opinion, the pubs Stavers Hessell Tiltman designed bear no resemblance to Art Deco. Although there are many Art Deco-style pubs, mainly in London and Nottingham! I stand to be corrected because I am still learning. I wonder what the Stavers’ original brief for the airport was, and what building he took his inspiration from.
Brighton City Airport comprises a control tower, offices, a customs hall, a restaurant, and bars. It is fondly known as Shoreham Airport. I sell two versions of this illustration with both headings. My TA drivers of Please People have helped my artist career!
The airside view illustration features a 1980s observation and traffic control room, The airport was built by James Bodie between 1934-35. I can’t find any other significant buildings or history on the builder. Please contact me if you know anything.
Brighton City Airport has a friendly, warm, welcoming feel to it. In my illustration, the colour is creamier than in real life. That’s what artistic license is for! And for those of you who prefer to call it, Shoreham Airport, see my dedicated page for Shoreham Airport framed art and gifts.
The chipmunk outside Brighton City Airport is my friend’s plane which he keeps there. I took the photo separately and superimposed it onto the building, digitally once complete.
If you can help me to fill in the gaps with any of the architect’s stories and inspirations, please contact me.
Art Deco style pubs in the UK
About Stavers Hessell Tiltman
Historic Croydon Airport
Please contact me if you have any questions.