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Report - Cardington Airship Hangers, Bedfordshire, April 2010


Conquistador d'Wolverton
28DL Full Member
Hey Guys,


These hangers are quite literally massive, and dominate the skyline for miles. I was expecting them to be eerily quiet inside; however the howling wind, contacting metal panels and flapping Perspex made the hanger seem like a living monster, breathing and shaking in the wind.
To give an idea of scale, these hangers could easily fit a cross-channel ferry (with regards to width and length)!


Cardington is one of the most important sites for airship manufacturing in the UK. The Shorts Brothers built their first hangar at Cardington (No 1 Shed) in 1915, which was 700ft long. Two rigid airships the R-31 and the R-32 were built there and many of the 800 workers were housed in the newly constructed ‘Shortstown’ opposite. In 1919 the works were nationalised and became known as the Royal Airship Works.

In 1924 Shed No1 was extended in preparation for the R101 project, the length was increased to 812ft (250m) and the height to 157ft (50ft). No2 Shed to the south was originally built in Pulham, Norfolk and was re-built in 1928 at Cardington. However after the terrible crash of the R101 in October 1930 (the fatal prelude to the Hindenburg) all production of airships in the UK stopped and Cardington became a storage base, however continued to manufacture hydrogen gas until 2000.

During the War Cardington started building barrage balloons, and later became the number one RAF balloon training centre.

The Hangers in the 30s

The ill-fated R101:


Shed 2 has recently been leased to Warner Bros and has been used to film scenes from Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Inception.


The massive doors, weighing nearly 80 tonnes

me trying to open the door


staircase up to a ladder, then more stairs to the gangway 150ft up


trying to convey the scale of the hanger




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