Cardington Airship Hangars

The Royal Airship Works became RAF Cardington in the 1930's (No 2 Hanger is originally from RNAS Pulham in Norfolk), during WWII the giant hangars became home to Balloon Command. After the war the site became separate from RAF Cardington, the MET office moved in and so did the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), with the latter being responsible for the familiar balloons which were similar to the Barrage balloons.

The Balloons were either used to carry MET office instruments or were used to evaluate Parachutes (using dead weights not manned) on behalf of the MoD this was certainly going on when I visited in 1979 during possibly the only unofficial school visit to the site (due to the secret nature of the parachute testing we weren't supposed to be there).

I saw a Fordson Suffolk (still in its RAF blue livery) winch lorry in operation, they thought it was the only one left at the time (not sure if this is the one they have in the RAF Museum at Hendon?).

The site is now in private ownership, the neighbouring RAF Cardington site has apart from the Administration block been cleared and a housing estate being built.

Anyway my main reason for starting this thread is that in 2005 Cardington Shed No1 (the one that housed the R101) was damaged in a storm, temporary repairs were made but nothing more was done.

Shed No1 is looking rather weather beaten, rusting and neglected (Shed 2 is always being maintained and painted). There is a danger that if work isn't undertaken that the shed will become dangerous and will have to be pulled down.

Being only one of two in the UK it is a site of national and aviation importance.

So what can you do to help?

Continued pressure will be put upon the owners of the shed to preserve this landmark. Please help by writing to Bedford Borough Council, and also show your concerns in writing by raising this matter also with English Heritage.

English Heritage
24 Brooklands Avenue
Cambridge CB2 8BU


[email protected]

A more recent newspaper cutting on the shed.

Cardington newspaper article

I have looked for a contact address for Bedford Borough Council but they don't list one for historic buildings.


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