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

The Gasbag Magazine

The next time any current resident receives their free GASBAG magazine delivered to their door take a closer look at it. Did you know the very first Gasbag was produced way back in April 1918 for Shorts employees?
If you look closely at the picture of this first issue you can see that it cost 6d and carries an illustration of the smiling airship still used 90 years later. We do not know the editors name and it is interesting to note that the forward was written by E H Mitchell the man in overall charge of the airship programme at the tIme. We have been very fortunate that the first six editions of the magazine have survived and can be found in the Bedford Museum and Bedford & Luton Archives Services. These magazines give an insight into the lives of the workers at the time with much talk of the sporting facilities available - there is even a suggestion of a ladies beauty contest to take place (open to all female employees). It is notable as well that Shortstown is referred to as the 'garden village' which is how it was perceived at the time.

It is a great disappointment that no other copies seem to have survived for the years between 1918 to around 1990 and it is by no means certain if the GASBAG has been in continuous circulation since 1918. Certainly the early copies were numbered and produced monthly but our current magazine does not carry any such issue numbers. If anyone can shed any light on this please make contact - any information at all would be gratefully received as any back copies may provide us with vital clues about the workers lives and events which happened in these years.

New Gasbag small
Shortstown Gasbag Magazine Cover 1918
Shortstown Gasbag Magazine 2010

Above on the left the first ever GASBAG magazine dated April 1918. Centre above a GASBAG magazine in Spring 2010 and the new Spring 2012 version on the right.

Some recent Gasbag Shortstown history articles

Airship Heroes No 1 – Sgt Walter Potter - The Gasbag Nov 2011

Of all the R101 crew who lived in Shortstown during the airship years there is one man who had very special links to the area.

Walter Potter was born in Blything, Suffolk in 1897. He worked in the brass shop at Crittal’s in Braintree and then joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915. In 1921 he survived the R38 airship crash which claimed 44 lives. Electoral registers which began in 1925 show that Assistant Coxswain Sgt Walter Potter lived in Shortstown from 1925 until 1930 when he was killed in the R101 crash in France.

However there is strong evidence to suggest that Walter was in Shortstown prior to 1925. Walter married an Ampthill girl Ida Evans, her great niece Christine Moore takes up the story “Ida Evans was born in Bedford in 1899, the 7th child of Joseph Evans of Marston Moretaine and Harriet Phillips of Ampthill. Joseph Evans was a butcher and

I am still searching for information of any old copies of The Gasbag. Despite extensive research we are still non the wiser if it has always been produced or simply revived in later years. If you can help with any information please step forward!

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