View Full Version : Cardington Hangars - Bedford

Priority 7
11-06-2011, 08:36 AM
Well this place has been done time and again, here is my slant. Anyone whose has driven the A421 and various other roads on the outskirts of Bedford will most certainly have noticed what at first glance appear to be 2 incredibly large sheds on a hill of to one side...welcome to the Cardington Hangars, built in the 1920's and rumoured to have cost the lives of 20 or so workers during construction these huge structures dominates the skyline and they still attract people from far and wide to view them from arms length.
Even when you see them from the perimeter fence you still unaware of their true size, and its not until you actually get right up next to them that you find yourself awestruck by the shear size.


Taken from Wikipedia
Cardington became one of the major British sites involved in the development of airships when Short Brothers bought land there to build airships for the Admiralty. They constructed a 700-foot-long (210 m) airship shed (the No. 1 Shed) in 1915 to enable them to build two rigid airships, the R-31 and the R-32. Some 800 people worked there in 1917, most of them travelled daily from Bedford[citation needed]. Shorts also built a housing estate, opposite the site, which they named Shortstown.
The airships site was nationalised in April 1919, becoming known as the Royal Airship Works.
In preparation for the R101 project the No 1 shed was extended between October 1924 and March 1926; its roof was raised by 35 feet and its length increased to 812 feet. The No. 2 shed (Southern shed), which had originally been located at RNAS Pulham, Norfolk, was dismantled in 1928 and re-erected at Cardington.
After the crash of the R101, in October 1930, all work stopped in Britain on airships. Cardington then became a storage station.
In 1936/1937 Cardington started building barrage balloons; and it became the No 1 RAF Balloon Training Unit.
For both airships and barrage balloons, Cardington manufactured its own hydrogen, in the Gas Factory, using the steam reforming process. In 1948 the Gas Factory became 279 MU (Maintenance Unit), RAF Cardington; and then, in 1955, 217 MU. 217 MU, RAF Cardington, produced all the gases used by the Royal Air Force until its closure in April 2000; including gas cylinder filling and maintenance.
The two airship sheds ceased being part of the RAF Cardington site in the late 1940s and they were put to other uses. The fence was moved, so they were outside the main RAF Cardington site.
For many years until around 2001, one of the sheds was used by the Building Research Establishment as a whole building test facility for the Cardington tests. Here, multi-storey steel, concrete and wooden buildings were constructed and then destructively tested within the huge space available. This shed was repainted and looked after in comparison with the other shed.
The buildings tests were mentioned during the course of the BBC series "The Conspiracy Files" as evidence in the controversy surrounding the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on 11 September 2001

Many thanks to Skeleton Key, Mimi, Tstranger and Nelly for the trip....in more than one sense....onto the photos:
















You can just about make out Mimi at the door gap which gives you an idea as to the size of the place


Unfortunately on my exit I seriously sprained my ankle and it pretty much ruined an otherwise great visit...I truely appreciate all my co-visitors for their help and concern.

12-06-2011, 06:32 AM
nice set, this place looks cool

18-06-2011, 08:16 AM
Its one of them places we do mean to visit..may get round to it one day :)...nice one mate looks good!

Priority 7
18-06-2011, 10:29 AM
Let me know when it hits your radar wevsky its local to me

18-06-2011, 02:24 PM
Loads up that way wevs will have to do a road trip some time as for you mr p7 nice was a good day and lots covered great pics bud
SK / Neil

20-06-2011, 08:55 PM
I'm wondering why the sign says all loose items in top pockets of clothing must be removed? Can anyone shed any light on this?

21-06-2011, 09:37 AM
Love the second to last shot too - really gives you a sense of just how massive this place is! :thumb

26-06-2011, 08:46 PM
I'm wondering why the sign says all loose items in top pockets of clothing must be removed? Can anyone shed any light on this?
Because when you bend over to reach down items in your top pocket may fall out, and fall a long way to strike someone working beneath. These are very tall structures. Bit of common sense H&S.

26-06-2011, 08:56 PM
nice pics this is such a cool place