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Airship Sheds
United Kingdom - Flookburgh


Country: United Kingdom Location: Flookburgh

Vickers had been based up near Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria for many years and had already moved from their first airship shed, for the ill-fated MayFly, to a more open shed for the later rigid airships.

The Company didn’t consider it’s recently completed shed on Walney Island as suitable for further expansion, and it was agreed that the existing shed could not be extended. It was also noted that the landing ground accompanying the shed was not suitable for larger rigid airships.

Location
Facilities
Actual
Proposed
Workers Houses
Hydrogen Plant

1 Double Rigid Airship Shed
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In the Spring of 1916, Vickers were given the approval to construct a new shed for the construction of rigid airships, and the new site of Flookburgh, to the east of Barrow-in-Furness was selected.

The land was selected on the very edge of Morecombe Bay, and the extensive mudflats was seen as a suitable precautionary distance from any form of shelling from German Submarines in the bay.

The latest regulations for locating airship bases had meant that all new airship works needed to be located near military camps or an existing stations, where a large reserve of manpower could be available at short notice, in the form of ground handling parties. The area around Flookburgh was sparsely populated and so as Shorts Brothers, and Beardmore before them, a model village was planned for housing of additional workers.

Construction of the the buildings began in Mach 1917 and the first residents moved in at the end of the year. The houses were designed and built but the design of the houses was not in keeping with the local architecture. A small branch line was routed off the mainline to help bring building materials via train to the airfield.

 
 
 
 

 

The builders Sir William Arrol & Co, whom had recently constructed the Inchinnan shed near Glasgow, were chosen to construct the Flookborugh shed. The shed was going to be larger than anything which had previously been built in Britain, being some 900ft long 150ft high. Including the windbreaks the structure would total some 2,700ft long.

Construction of the shed began in July 1917, and by September the giant steel framework had been assembled and the shed was beginning to take shape. However work was halted due to steel shortages, and it was decided by the Government, that the limited steel reserves be diverted to the Navy for warships, rather than airship sheds.

Flookburgh required some 10,000 tonnes of steel, for which 7,000 tonnes would be used for the shed itself, and only 170 tonnes had been delivered when the work was called to a halt. Issues had also been raised with the foundations of the shed, in that the shed was being built on damp ground. An alternative plan was hastily drawn up, which planned to complete the shed with only requiring some 3,000 tonnes of steel. The decision was made by Vickers to stop the project. Some. £792,000 had already been spent compared to the costs of £230,000 which had been spent by Shorts Brothers for the Cardington constructional facility.

The site remained incomplete until the end of the war, and in 1920 an auction was held by the Disposals Board, for the site buildings, huts and works. The railway branch line was removed in 1922. Of the planned 300 houses, only 120 had been completed, and the settlement was renamed from Flookburgh West, to Ravenstown, and later sold off in the later part of 1920’s.

The houses are still there today, and are the only evidence of the ambitious plan for the largest airship shed in Britain.


 

 
 

 

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