Historical places, airship, Bedfordshire local history, airships, national heritage sites, historic preservation, attractions in the UK, heritage sites in the UK, historical monuments, historical landmarks, tourist attractions in the UK, places in UK to visit, tourist in England, historical tourism, R101 and R100 airships.

Shortstown Heritage

Shortstown 1931-1938

Just as Shortstown suffered a reversal of fortune in 1921 with the crash of the R38 and the cancellation of new orders history sadly repeated itself in Oct 1930 with the R101 tragedy. In the following months most of the R101 crew member's widows and children left the village and many of the R100 families returned home as all airship plans were abandoned. However massive airship construction was not the only industrial activity on the site as other parts were used for gas production and balloon research and these continued so numbers of residents did not decrease as much as one would suppose with the loss of the airships. (The R100 was broken up in 1931 and sold for scrap). Again analysing the electoral registers it appears that 47 of the families who lived in Shortstown between 1925-1930 still remained in the village until at least 1934 wiith approximately 17 still living there after WW2, certainly some of the original R100 crewmembers were still here in the 1950's. The fact that the site could still provide work for these people is a testimony to the diverse nature of the units operating there.

RAW Sports Day July 36

(Original image The Bedford Record, Beds & Luton Archive Services).

Happy times in Shortstown!! This charming photograph appeared in The Bedford Record in July 1936 and was taken at the annual RAW Sports & Social club children's sports day. Do you recognise anyone?
It is an interesting photograph because there are houses in the background which could be those in Greycote which suggest that the sports field was to the side of that street. Can anybody confirm this or offer any other suggestions?

ARP ad May 1938SM

The village gradually revived in the mid thirties as once again the camp became useful to national interests with the government looking at ways to increase air defences and so barrage balloons came to RAF Cardington which became known as the BU unit. This in turn increased the need for civilian workers to provide support on the site.
Increasingly sinister events in Europe began to cast ominous shadows over the country in the late 1930's as war with Germany looked to be inevitable. This advert appearing in The Bedford Times & Independent newspaper as early as May 1938 was to inform members of the public of the duties of ARP officials in the event of war.

(Image shown with permission of the Beds & Luton Archives Services)

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