Shoreham Airport, AKA Brighton City Airport, and the Shoreham Airport café are beautiful. The terminal building is Art Deco and was opened in 1936 and the main hangar is Grade II listed. Shoreham is Britain’s oldest licensed airport. There’s actually been an airport on the site since 1911 and it was founded by a former student of nearby Lancing College. That student (Harold Piffard) was the first person to fly from Shoreham in a Humming Bird aircraft and thereafter, the airport had a life as a centre for civilian flying training. In both WWI and WWII it became a military base but these days, it’s open seven days a week and provides helicopter charter, private jet hire, training, and more. If you have a look at their flight arrivals and departures (on their website), you’ll see exotic and far-flung destinations like Goodwood, Henfield, North Weald, and the Isle of Wight!
Within the terminal building, you’ll also find the Shoreham Airport Collection and you can take a tour of the airport (they’re open every day from 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays and at weekends from 12 pm to 3 pm). And there is a café suitably named The Hummingbird.
The Hummingbird Café
What’s not to love about The Hummingbird Café? We arrived on a wet and windy late Saturday afternoon and even though it was not long until closing, we were greeted with a warm welcome. The café is directly to the left of the terminal building (as you look at it), with large glass windows overlooking the runway. They also have seating outside so you can sit literally feet away from the range of small aircraft and watch them take off. Despite the bad weather and the fact it was all locked up, the staff opened it up for us to go onto the terrace. In the distance, you can see Lancing College proud on the hill and the South Downs and if you fancy an interesting and unusual afternoon, arrange a tour of Lancing Chapel first and then come on to the airport!
What’s on the menu?
We were only stopping for coffee and cake but they had a good selection. A quick look at the menu revealed they serve a choice of honest grub which includes fish and chips, ham and egg, macaroni cheese, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. And they do breakfast! They also have a bar (although I couldn’t spot any Sussex wine)!
It was too windy for aircraft to take off on the day of our visit so we ate up and had a mooch around the airport, including walking to the gallery from where you can look down on the hall with its luggage conveyor belt and checked floor. You’ve got to love the buckets that were catching the rain! There are some old photographs and notice boards in the terminal building so even though we didn’t do a tour, we got a chance to learn a bit more about the history of the airport.
The Hummingbird Café does get busy but on a quiet day, we were able to park directly outside. We then took the back road out of the airport down New Salts Farm Road which brings you out on the A259 and not far from the beach.
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