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 R31 Airship

R31A

This picture shows the Shorts built R31 outside Shed no 1. The R31 was a wooden airship built to government specifications - her first trial flight was made in July 1918 in the closing months of World War 1 and she was actually fully commissioned in November 1918 . Ironically she was never used in a battle capacity as the war finished in the same month. One can't help wondering what the people of Bedford thought as they gazed up into the sky and saw the ship for the first time! There does not appear to be much available documentation of this airship but certainly some of the men and women who worked on her would have lived in the new houses built in Shortstown in 1917 and 1918. The information of the crew below has been gleaned from later newspaper reports. In actual fact this ship did not fly for many hours and for this reason it is difficult to find out details about her.

Some of the known crew members of the R31

Rampton

Rigger George Martin Rampton had lived in Shortstown in 1929 and 1930 and was a highly experienced member of the crew having joined the Royal Flying Corp in 1915 and served in the First World War. Reports tell us that he had previously worked on both the R31 and R32. Sadly he was to lose his life in the R101 crash.

R34 Robert Burgess 10 The Crescent 1931-2

Corporal R J Burgess was a rigger on the R34 airship. He had joined the airship service in 1916 and worked on both the R31 and R32. He later joined the R100 crew and was part of an advance team of men who sailed to Canada to assist in the arrival of the R100. He is registered as a resident of Shortstown in 1930 and 1931.

Potter 2

Flight Sgt Walter Potter - long term
resident of Shortstown from at least
1925 to 1930. A survivor of the R38
crash in 1921 he was later to lose his life inthe R101 crash. For more details of this man see the article about him in The Gasbag section of this website.

Other known crew members of the R31

Newspaper reports of the crews of the R100 and R101 also included details of the other ships the men had previously worked on. From these reports we can tell that the following men also worked on the R31.

Flt Sgt T Greenstreet - apart from the R31 this man had worked on the R100 amongst other airships, more details of him can be found on the R100 Photo Gallery page. I have not incuded his photograph here as the one on the R100 page is of very poor quality.

T Hobbs - this man had worked on a vast array of airships and lived in Shortstown from at least 1925 until at least 1950 (I have only got up to 1950 in my research of Shortstown residents so it is possible he was still in Shortstown after this date.)

If anyone has any photographs of these two men or any other information about the airships built at Cardington please get in touch. Many thanks.

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