RAF Cardington 80th Anniversary 1936 - 2016

Early RAF emblem

RAF Cardington is often overlooked because of the Cardington connection to the early airships. Sometimes it is wrongly assumed that the airships were part of the RAF. In fact the first airships came under the umbrella of the Royal Navy, indeed many of the early crews had a naval background and used naval terminology hence for example we see some airship crew members referred to as "riggers".

However RAF Cardington directly evolved from the groundwork and research done by the airship staff some of whom remained at the site when the airship programme came to a halt in 1930 following the crash of the R101. These staff continued to research airships and balloons in particular and as a result in 1936 RAF Cardington was formed its first unit being No 1 Balloon Training Unit.

The former site of RAF Cardington was demolished back in 2009 and has been replaced by a housing development still ongoing today. Very little remains of the station. Of course the huge two sheds still remain and the Station HQ building (since reverted back to its original name "The Shorts Building") has now been converted into a childrens centre and residential apartments.

The Shorts Building

Now a childrens centre and apartments the old Station HQ. *Image kindly painted by Gill Clinch of the Bedford Arts Society.

Absolute final sheds Jan 2016

Still standing today Bedfords much loved sheds!

At the moment there is nothing on site to indicate that RAF Cardington ever existed but moves are afoot by Bellway Homes to create a permanent memorial to the station. We are very fortunate that Bellway have given their support for such a project and we will post any progress made on this page. So watch this space!

If you have any relatives who worked on the camp in these years and can help with this research please get in touch. Thank you

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