Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,742 pages of information and 213,795 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Royal Airship Works

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Royal Airship Works at Bedford.

1916 Short Brothers was awarded a contract to build two large dirigible airships for the Admiralty. As part of the contract a loan was provided to enable the Company to purchase a site near Cardington, Bedfordshire, on which to build airship construction facilities.

1919 The name of the company was changed to Short Brothers (Rochester and Bedford) Ltd but nationalisation the same year ended the Short Brothers' involvement with the company, which became the Royal Airship Works. The housing estate built by the company in Cardington to house its employees still bears the name Shortstown.

1920 Built the R38 dirigible for the American Navy which was claimed to be the largest yet constructed. Powered by six engines totalling 1,950 hp. It crashed over Hull in August 1921.

1938 The works were renamed the Balloon Development Establishment (BDE).

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