Tinsley Green (1935) Station
In 1934 Airports Ltd paid the Southern Railway £3000 towards
Gatwick's second railway station, which opened on 30th September 1935 and
was initially served by two trains an hour. With platforms on both slow and
fast lines, constructed with concrete harp & slabs, the station was renamed
Gatwick Airport on 1st June 1936. Signal Instruction Nº35 of 1935
confirms this opening date of "Tinsley Green for Gatwick Airport".
Connected by a covered footbridge, the station had waiting rooms and canopies
on all four platforms.
On Sunday 17th May 1936 Gatwick's first scheduled air service left for
Paris, operated by British Airways ("Allied" had been dropped in
October 1935). Even then, through ticketing was available as the single fare of
four pounds and five shillings included a first class ticket from Victoria!
Other flight destinations were Malmo via Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen and the
Isle of Wight. The Southern Railway was now serving Gatwick Airport, some of
whose air services were in direct competition!
British Airways Ltd moved to Heston in 1938 and its competition on European
services so threatened Imperial Airways that in November 1937 a Parliamentary
committee proposed the nationalization and merger of Imperial and British
Airways. When the reorganization was completed on 24th November 1939, the
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was formed. The connection with
British Airways Plc is purely historical via the British Airways Board, which
was formed from the merger April 1974 of BOAC and BEA.
The 6th June 1936 saw the opening of the Beehive; the world's first
circular airport terminal. With a 130-yard foot tunnel to the station (thus
allowing passengers to remain dry, although the tunnel often flooded) aircraft
could pull right up to the terminal building.
Designed by architects Alan Marlow, Frankin Hoar and Bill Lovett the (now
restored) Beehive with its patent on the moving telescopic canopies, which
radiated out from the terminal building to the aircraft, was arguably a
significant step in the design of airport terminal buildings. It is understood
that a narrow gauge railway was involved in the airport construction work.
With the Second World War, Gatwick was requisitioned by the Air Ministry for
use by the RAF. This including extending the airfield into part of the
racecourse which saw its last race in 1940. Following the Second World War
Gatwick was retained under requisition and operated by the Ministry of Civil
Aviation saw civilian charter operations. Having had government approval in
1952 for the development of Gatwick, the airport closed in March 1956 to enable
building of the "New London Airport". However Gatwick Airport (1935)
station remained open and with the last trains on the 27th May 1958 it finally
closed in favour of the new airport station on 28th May 1958.
The 1935 station remained derelict for many years. Eventually the copers were
removed and in the late 1970s platforms 2, 3 & 4 of the 1935 station were
razed and the slow lines straightened in readiness for Tinsley Green
Now in a position away from the Up Slow, the former station building even saw
use as office accommodation for at least one of Gatwick Airport's many