Places > Cardington > Airships
The hangars are situated two and a half miles south of Bedford close to the village of Cardington. They are enormous, dominating the skyline for miles around and measuring 247m x 84m x 55m (812ft x 275ft x 180 ft). The main doors weigh 940 tons and are mounted on rails; they are operated by electric motors.
Number 1 shed was built by A.J. Main and Co. of Glasgow in 1916-17 for the Admiralty. The first two airships built in it were the R31 and the R32. It was enlarged in 1926-27 by the Cleveland Bridge Company with the purpose of housing the R101.
Number 2 shed was built by the Cleveland Bridge Company in 1928 to house the R100. The R100 arrived in December 1929 from Howden, Yorkshire, where it had been built, and in 1930 successfully flew the Atlantic both ways. The R101was not ready until October 1930 when it left on its tragic voyage to India, only to crash near Beauvais to the north west of Paris just a few hours later.
The hangars were built to house the development of British airships but this project was abandoned following the R101 disaster. This loss of confidence meant that the sheds became redundant almost as soon as they were completed.
During World War II Cardington was used to train barrage balloon operators and has subsequently provided balloons for metrological research and parachute training.
Cardington Hangars, by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2005
Page last updated: 23rd January 2014