RAF Cardington Camp

AIR 2

The R101 which crashed in Oct 1930

 The early years had been dominated by the Airship Programme which ended abruptly when the R101 crashed in 1930. A very brief description of the airships built at Cardington can be found on The Airships page.

The emblem above left and right of the title is of the Royal Airship Works (RAW) which was formed in 1919 when the government took over the site from Shorts. This name was used until 1938 when it was renamed The Balloon Development Establishment which continued research already begun 20 years ago.

The construction of airships was not the only activity in the camp during the late 1920's. The Gas Plant was in operation and details of this can be found on The Gas Plant page in The Topics section.

During the years 1932 - 1938 both of the Sheds were used to store and repair aircraft .

The demise of the R101 drastically reduced the local workforce at the end of 1930 and the remaining staff were employed in the dismantling of the R100 airship in 1931. A boost for the site came in 1932 when the Air Ministry decided to make use of the huge space available in both sheds by using them to store aircraft so this part of the site became known as No 2 Aircraft Storage Depot.

The task of leading this new depot was assigned to Sqdrn Leader S Dixon who was at the time Superintendent of the Royal Airship Works. At first work had to be done to prepare the area for safe landings in front of the sheds. A further problem presented itself when initially men had to be bussed in daily from RAF Henlow to take on the work due to the lack of suitable accommodation on site. This problem was eventually resolved when the old huts on the camp were made habitable.

In 1934 the decision was taken that the unit should be run by civilians which provided employment for local people. In 1938 No 2 Aircraft Storage Unit was moved to Brize Norton and the sheds were put to other uses with the onset of WW2.