Cardington Airship Hangers.
The Cardington aircraft hangers (or more correctly termed as ‘sheds’) dominate the surrounding countryside landscape of Bedfordshire for miles where they can be spotted looming out from the horizon.
Shed no1 was constructed in 1917 and no2 was completed a few years later in 1928, both hangers contain their own micro-climates and if you are lucky enough to find yourself inside one of these on a dry day out you may find it raining on the inside.
The front sliding doors weigh over 80 tonnes of metal each and the hangers in length extend to over 247m and rise to just over 59 metres, both sheds still remain the largest in Western Europe and could house 2 Wembley Stadiums with leftover space for a hooligan bar.
These sheds which were designed and built by hand required vast space to house an aircraft significantly large enough to compete with the monstrous Zepplins, so steel portal frames were used with pin joints to hold up the crown and all side walls of the structure.
The death count during their assembly remains vague however inevitably dozens did fall to their deaths during the construction period.
Hanger no1 was home to the famous R101 which crashed on its maiden voyage in Beauvais, north of France killing hundreds of passengers flying over to India.
More darkly between 1953 and 1964 the Government carried out experimental research in the area whereby Zinc Cadmium Sulphide was sprayed secretly from moving vehicles and aircraft over residential areas.
This was to observe how a cloud would distribute the biological particles in the air and subsequent testing by the M.O.D continued years after the trials to prolong the data collection from air quality metering reports.
The chemical aftermath is still rumoured to have deeply contaminated the land and many locals have complained about unusually high numbers of diseases which are thought to have originated from the experiments.
To date Hanger no1 is still in use for the construction of light aircraft and Hanger no2 has been acquired by Warner Bros and has been put to use as a film set thanks to the hanger’s ideal height and open space.
Scenes from Batman Begins (from which you may spot the Gotham city police department car parked outside), Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James Bond films have all been filmed here.
Both Hangers are now grade two listed and will hopefully be kept for as inspiring uses as they were built for.
Copyright © Elle Dunn 2007. All rights reserved.
Use of any photographs on this website requires permission of the author Elle Dunn.
Website design/production by Koolheart Productions