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.

The RAW Social & Sports Club 1931-1938

Of course the loss of the R101 and subsequent cancellation of all British airship development had a profound effect on Shortstown with personnel rapidly leaving the village. However there still remained a core number of employees looking after the sheds and the club continued. However it is recorded that the steward and secretary both took a drop in wages reflecting the reduction of hours worked and the decline in membership numbers.

Both nationally and locally there were high levels of unemployment in the early 30's - the RAW having provided work for hundreds of people from Bedford so the closure of the works was a double blow for this area. In 1931 it is recorded that the club opened up the small lounge, library, and games room to its unemployed members during the day and the minutes of Eastcotts Parish Council in March 1932 express concern of the level of people without work in the parish. In 1935 the decision was taken to reduce membership fees for the unemployed (unfortunately reducing the clubs income at the same time). Membership numbers in this year also fell to 144 compared to 207 in 1929.

However in 1937/8 with increasing numbers now working on the camp the club saw its fortunes turn for the better with membership climbing to 204. The stewardess Mrs Ellis was awarded a pay rise for her extra workload (on the understanding that this could be reduced if the club numbers suffered a decline). 1937 also saw a great deal of activity within the club which also included the formation of a Coronation Committee to celebrate Coronation Day in May 1937 when a party was held. There was also a resolution passed to 'purchase disinfectant to combat (the) unpleasant odour probably partly due to decomposed rats!'

Social Club Feb 1939

(Original image Beds & Luton Archive Services Beds Times & Citizen Collection BP Box 491. Photography courtesy John Day)

Jan 1939 saw preparations afoot to hold a farewell party for the Aircraft Storage Section personnel who have been called away to other units in preparation for war and Arthur Bell summed up the mood of the club with talk of losing many good companions and that they should be 'generous in holding a smokers party with free drinks' for all. This party was held on Feb 4th 1939 as was reported in the local press at the time. Although everyone is smiling one can only imagine the sadness and anxiety felt by all as they faced an uncertain future.
Yet again the club closes another chapter in it's story.

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