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

T S D Collins

T S D Collins - Stress Office R101
resident from at least 1925-1936

T S D Collins rates

Thomas Stanley Davis Collins was highly respected by his peers and was part of the investigative team sent to France after the R101 crash. In Harold Roxbee Cox 's memoirs (later Lord Kings Norton see below) he is referred to as a naval architect who had been involved with the design of the R38. He lived in The Crescent , Shortstown from at least 1925 until 1936 and was most likely here much earlier if he was involved with the R38 (1919-1921).

Lord Kings Norton1

Harold Roxbee Cox (later Lord Kings Norton) - lived in Greycote in 1925/26

Harold Roxbee Cox was born in 1902 at Handsworth and was educated at Kings Norton Grammar School. From 1918-1922 he worked in the Aircraft Design department at the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge at the same time gaining an external First Class honours degree from London University and in 1924 a PHD from London’s Imperial College – it was here that he attended lectures given by Colonel Richmond on airship development and which led to him to join Richmond tea initially as a "calculator" in the drawing office.

Stanley James Durston "A Pioneer of Airship Design"

stan 7

Stanley James Durston - resident of Shortstown 1925-1929

The following information is taken from a Bedford Times news article in September 1961 about a former resident of Shortstown Stanley Durston who lived in The Highway and later The Crescent between 1925 – 1929 and remained in Bedford until at least 1961.

In the article Stanley is described as “A pioneer of Airship design.” He was born in 1888 and by 1916 we find him working for The Admiralty as a draughtsman. During the First World War aerial attacks became a feature of modern warfare and German Zeppelins began raids on British soil. At this time and indeed for many years after German airship design was far superior to anything the British had.

When any of the German airships were shot down in the course of the war staff from the Admiralty would eagerly sift through the wreckage to glean any information as to the design of the ship. Using his skills as a draughtsman Stanley Durston was part of this team and his experience of rigid airships and kite balloons was to continue for the rest of his working life. Certainly rigid airships built at Cardington in the early years were based on designs copied from the German airships so Stanley’s work cannot be underestimated. We also learn that Stanley worked alongside and had great admiration for Mr Campbell the head of the ill-fated R38 team who was to lose his life when that ship crashed in 1921 killing 44 men. Because of his close connection to the R38 airship it is possible that Stanley was residing in Shortstown before 1925 but as there are no records for the early years we cannot confirm this.*

Stanley went on to serve at Cardington for many years after the demise of the airships later becoming Designer in Charge of The Kite Balloon Design and Drawing Office.

*If anyone is a relative of Mr Durston or has any more information about him please get in touch as we would like to find out more about him and the work he did. Thank you.

McWade ratings listing

This ratings valuation sheet for No 1 The Highway taken around 1925-1927 shows F Mcwade as the occupier.

When the military airships were transferred to the Navy in 1914, Mr McWade followed them, remaining at Farnborough until the end of February 1915, when he went to Kingsnorth airship station. Here he was concerned with the constructional side of all the naval non-rigids from SS airships to North Seas. In April 1920 he was transferred to the Royal Airship Works at Cardington, and after a brief interval returned there in 1924 as Assistant Inspector and Resident Inspector in charge A.I.D., and so was concerned with the R100 and R101.*
Mr McWade played a very big part in the development of all British government built non rigids and the later rigid airships. He had an unrivalled experience, and those who came in contact will remember how helpful and knowledgeable he was. By his death British airships and those who served them have lost a faithful friend. RIP" (Author unknown)

*Frederick McWade was also on the successful R100 flight to Montreal in this capacity.

If you have a photograph of Frederick McWade or of No 1 and No 2 The Highway please make contact as these are continuing to evade me! Many thanks.

Below is a list of Drawing and Technical staff known to have lived in Shortstown at some time between 1925 -1930. If you have any information about any of these individuals or others who worked at the Royal Airship Works please get in touch as I would love to show their photographs here . Many thanks.

George Ritson Raisbeck - Chief Examiner
Edwin Frank Randle - Drawing Office
Leslie Augustus Speed - RAW Design Office
James William Philip Uren
Stanley Williams - Design Office

Walter Charlton - Deputy Accountant
Albert Eldridge - Clerk to AID
Albert Gerrish - Shed Manager
John James Hamley - Clerk of Works
Wiliam Herbert Richard Hayes - Drawing Office
John Nairn - Draughtstman

Arthur Pugsley jpeg

Shown left, Sir Alfred Grenville Pugsley OBE, FRS,FEng,FistructE, FRAeS.

Alfred Pugsley was born in 1903 and began life as a civil engineering apprentice at the Royal Woolwich Arsenal before moving on to the Royal Airship Works. Alfred worked in the design team and went on to have a distinguished career in structural engineering and aeronautical research. He was knighted in 1956.

Yet another example of the talented individuals who worked in the Shorts Building.

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