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Shortstown Heritage

The R100 Airship


(Images reproduced here with the kind permission of Mr Romilly Meager son of Captain Meager )

1929 saw the arrival of the R100 to shed no 2 from Howden and many personnel followed on. The First Officer was Captain George Meager a highly experienced airshipman having served in the Airship section of the RNAS in the First World War. George Meager lived in North Drive in 1929 & 1930 as did quite a few of the R100 team. His airship exploits are recorded in his book 'My Airship Flights 1915-1930 shown here.

Below is a list of those crew members on the R100 flight to Canada who were living at Shortstown in 1930. Those highlighted in blue* also served on the R101. A few of the R100 crewmen stayed on in the village after the R101 crash and lived here for many years after.

  • Arthur Disley - Wireless Operator*
  • Frederick McWade - Chief Inspector RAW*
  • Albert Savage - Chief Steward*

R100 Reunion Dinners in Bedford

R100 Reunion 1939

For many years after the airship programme ended some of the remaining crew and staff would meet up in Bedford at The Swan Hotel for a reunion dinner.The newspaper caption at the time described these as 'R100' gatherings but some of those people attending were from the R101 team. Seated first left is Arthur Bell resident of Shortstown and survivor of the R101 crash.

Although the R100 was originally constructed at Howden the men chose to meet up in Bedford which made sense as many of them stayed on in Shortstown and found other work on the camp.

At The Swan Hotel Bedford November 1939*

The gathering seen here in 1939 would have been especially poignant as WW11 had just begun and several of the men are in uniform and may have been posted abroad later. The man seated first left in the picture on the left above is Arthur Bell one of the six survivors of the R101 crash and I believe the man sat down slightly obscured second from the right is Joe Binks another R101 survivor. It is not known if any reunions took place during the war and if any others were held after the one in 1945.

*Pictures from Beds & Luton Archives Services Times & Citizens Collection BP Box 761 Photography courtesy of John Day.

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