The old airship station lies South West of Bedford and dominates the landscape. I’ve passed it many times and often wondered what was inside. Me and non-member Eeka went and had a look recently on our way back from another site further south.
History from web
Cardington Hangar (or Shed) No. 1 was built in 1915 by the Short Brothers to house airships that could compete with Zeppelins. By 1917 around 800 people worked there, mostly living in the adjacent Shortstown, also built by the brothers.
Shed 2 was moved to the site from Norfolk in 1928 but, when the famous R101 airship crashed on it's way to India in 1930, the British airship industry collapsed and Cardington became a storage station.
In 1936, the hangars were used to build barrage balloons which went on to play a major role in the Second World War and Cardington became the RAF Balloon Training Unit. However, the sheds were only part of RAF Cardington until the late 1940's when they were put to a variety of uses such as hydrogen production. All of the gases used by the RAF came from Cardington, right up until April, 2000. One of the sheds was also used for the destruction and subsequent testing of multi-storey buildings.
Shed 2 was restored in 1994 and is on long-term lease to Warner Bros who have used it for filming such as Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. As long ago as 1968 there was a sound stage here, with some scenes from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang being filmed.
Shed 1 is currently undergoing “updating”.
Standing at 56metres tall, each door weighs 470 tonnes including the concrete ballast.
A Peak in through the gap in the rear doors before we went inside.
As others have said, it’s hard to convey the scale. The artic trailers were parked about 1 third of the way down the 247metre long shed.
The tiny white thing to the right of the gap in the doors is all 5’ 6” of Eeka with spread arms. (Blatant copy of Nelly’s shot. )
Quite a few of these mooring rings in the floor, but they look like a later addition.
1920s M.E.W.P. ….
… and it’s great grandson, complete with ninja polythene cloaking. There were a couple of these that were being used to jet-wash and paint some of the steelwork. It looked like some of the steel beams had already been replaced and there was a workshop area at the back where they were making new ones.
These were sat on blocks in the middle of nowhere and the crated parts were way down at the other end.
The door opening gears and brake.
Shed 2 in all it’s restored glory.
Thanks for looking