''Architect and Building News'' report on Airport building

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From the Architect and Building News, 14 January 1938

The new Airport building from the airside

Jersey Airport was opened in May 1937, and is one of the few to have been designed, built and equipped as a single unit. Future extensions of the landing ground and buildings, and provision for landing by radio guidance under conditions of bad visibility are covered in a "master scheme" prepared before any work was put in hand.

Layout of landing ground and buildings

The siting of the buildings was dictated primarily by aeronautical considerations. In this case the buildings have been placed at the easternmost end of the landing ground, looking down the main runway.

In buildings of this nature, which are provided for traffic growing day by day, the first consideration should be for so placing them that the essential control of the airport does not become obsolete by subsequent development. It may be seen clearly from the plans that the hangar buildings are placed so that they extend backwards, in the same manner as the wings of a swallow in flight, from the administrative building.

Any future extension, such as additional hangarage, workshops, club or hotel, would be embraced within the boundaries of these wings, while to accommodate further administrative and air companies' offices, provision has been made for an additional floor over the incoming passengers' hall, etc, on the one hand, and over the outgoing passengers' hall, etc, on the other.

Description of buildings

It will clearly be seen from the plans, and also from the photographs of the elevations, that the administrative building is divided into three sections. The central section accommodates on the ground floor the airport overseer's office, the main entrance hall and the gallery giving on to the public promenade deck overlooking the landing ground on the first floor, the restaurant and kitchens on the second floor, the airport offices on the third floor, and the control room, and platform on the fourth floor.

Either side of the central section are on the one hand the incoming passengers'hall, with immigration and Customs offices and goods stores, etc, and on the other hand the outgoing passengers' hall, with weighing facilities, counter and office space for operating companies and immigration arrangements.

Passengers journeying outwards arrive by car or coach in the forecourt and alight at the entrance to the outgoing passengers' hall, are weighed in that hall, and pass automatically through a waiting room to the aircraft on the apron. Their baggage is fed direct by porters to the aircraft.

Similarly incoming passengers enter the buildings via the entrance to the immigration offices. From there they pass through the Customs hall, where in the meantime their luggage has been deposited, and automatically make their exit direct to the forecourt.

Should the passenger wish to do so, he may break away from this arrangement before being weighed on the outgoing journey, and after passing Customs on the incoming journey, enter the main hall and make his way to the first floor promenade and snack bar or to the restaurant on the second floor.

An airport seems always to be popular with holidaymakers, and, having in mind the spectators who collected on the sea front in the days when the aircraft operated from the beach at St Helier, the consultants have provided for them ample space on the first floor promenade. Access to this promenade is obtained direct from the forecourt. Deck chairs and seats, together with the services of a snack counter, are provided.

Externally, the buildings present, both in form and colour, the clearcut, workman-like lines usually associated with a ship. Esthetically this is sound, since many of the attributes of an airport are identical with those of a seaport.

Internally, it would seem that the consultants have striven to achieve a combination of the precise working of a railway station with the comfort and surroundings generally to be found in a modern office building.

The plans for the building

Lighting

The landing ground is equipped with four floodlights, each with a maximum candle power of 1,200,000. The apron is provided with gas discharge lamps so designed as to light the apron where loading and unloading takes place, while they are screened effectively from the landing ground.

In buildings of this type services must be maintained through all emergencies. It will be found, therefore, that should the main supply of current fail, a generator will operate automatically and feed all floodlights, obstruction and boundary lights, and emergency lights throughout the buildings where they are required, in addition to the fire and crash sirens and the fire hydrants pump.

In the photograph of the interior of the control room a small cabinet with a map engraved on its sloping top may be noticed. This is the control panel of the aerodrome lighting equipment, where at night, by flicking a small switch, the whole countryside springs to life with red (obstruction) lights and the boundary of the landing ground becomes clearly defined by orange lights, and where any floodlight brought into operation indicates itself with a small pilot lamp on the map.

Heating

An odd man on an airport staff is generally required for a number of jobs, and were the fuelling of the heating plant entirely dependent upon him, it would be bound to suffer from lack of regular attention. Gravity feed boilers have been installed, and it is necessary only to replenish the hoppers twice and clean the fires once daily.

Machinery

The machinery includes:

  • Pump for fire hydrants. This operates automatically as soon as the fire hydrant valve is opened,
  • Compressor for pneumatic message carriers. Airport control work entails of necessity written slips for record purposes; these have to be passed quickly from wireless to control, control to airport overseer, etc.

It was, of course, necessary to isolate and place remote from wireless equipment all moving machinery.

Wireless

It will be seen that two wireless rooms have been provided, in addition to a wireless transmitter room, which is remotely controlled from the other two rooms. The wireless room on the control platform deals entirely with aircraft, while that on the third floor deals with the mainland, work which, in the course of normal events, would be dealt with by land line.

Jersey wireless station controls the whole of the area covering the Channel Islands, and is therefore consulted by all craft passing over that area. This includes, of course, Empire flying boats to and from Africa. Where wireless in connection with aircraft is concerned, the greatest precautions against distortion and interference have to be taken. For this reason the wireless room on the control platform is built of wood and is effectively "screened" from the building below.

Adjoining the airport overseers office is a small microphone cabinet, where any instructions or information for the public are amplified and relayed to all public rooms and halls.

The architect's elevation of the new building

Crash Equipment

Adjoining the smaller of the two hangars, and with access to the apron and the landing ground, are the vehicle shed and the first aid room. In the vehicle shed are kept an ambulance and a crash tender, both always ready with immersion type heaters keeping the engines warm for instant use. In the first aid room a complete outfit is kept for cases of emergency.

The whole airport, including preparation of the landing ground, the buildings, the airport lighting, the wireless installation, the mechanical and specialised equipment and the general furnishings, were carried out under the firm of Messrs Norman and Dawbarn, of which Mr Graham Dawbarn is a partner.

Mr Cyril W Rice, States Engineer of Jersey, represented the clients throughout the two years or more which covered the progress of the work. Mr Roderick Denman was associated with the wireless installations, and Mr S W Budd acted as consultant for structural steel work.

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