Heritage Trust - an Overview
the closure of the Royal Airship Works in 1936, it was
the forethought of employee, Leslie Speed who worked on
the airship programme, to salvage and store many of the
original records, artifact and photographs.
Set up in 1985 by the relatives of the
1921-36 airship programme and originally known as F.O.C.A.S
(Friends of the Cardington Airship Station).
Trust has been determined to establish a national airship
museum at a suitable location but changes in ownership and
use of the airship sheds at Cardington has meant that the
Trust has had to look elsewhere for a home.
An alternative venue at the nearby Shuttleworth Collection
was explored but proved unsuitable. The Trust is now in active
discussions with the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton for
some of the Trust's collections to be incorporated into their
displays - reflecting the historic links between British airships
and the Royal Navy. Throughout this period, the AHT has been
supported by the Rope Trust, a charitable organisation linked
to the family of Sqn Ldr Michael Rope, a highly talented airship
engineer who died on the R101.
With much of the original collection added to over the years,
the collection includes many unusual artifact and rare photographs.
The AHT records and administers a major source of British
The main objectives of the Trust are
foster and promote the study of the history of airships
and present this to the public.
To stimulate the interest in Cardington as an airship base
and conserve itís principle buildings.
1987, one of our four principal objects of the Airship Heritage
Trust, as set out in it's Articles of Association has been
to "stimulate public interest in the role of Cardington
as an airship base and in the conservation of the principal
buildings thereof". It has not - and never has been -
the Trust's role to seek the preservation of the whole of
the Cardington site nor to seek the retention of the flying
field for current or future airship operations. Following
of the Shorts Building our main aim must be now to try
to ensure that the two Cardington Sheds are preserved as historic
structures, irrespective of whether they are used for lighter-than-air
purpose's in the future. It has been the policy of the Trust
over a number of years not to comment on planning applications
relating to the Cardington site because these have not, generally,
been in conflict with the Trust's principal objects. However
individual members of the Airship Heritage Trust have been
entirely free to submit comments and objections to the relevant
planning bodies if they have wished to do so. Following discussions
with both English Heritage and Bedford Borough Council regarding
the current planning applications submitted by Fosbern Manufacturing
Limited, the Trust's Council has found no reason to depart
from this policy in the present case.
has moved it's collection with partnership with the Fleet
Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton with a major part of the Trust's
collections to be incorporated into their displays. The Trust's
extensive library is housed at Cranfield University Library
and is available to members and the public. Today the AHT
continues to strive to carry out it's objectives in the promotion
of the study and history of airships. Many of our members
offer lectures to organisations and along with a mobile display
which can be seen at local events. The Trust has close links
with the RAF Museum, British Balloon Museum and Library, the
Airship Association and many other organisations.
2010 80th Anniversary year showed an extensive
display of the some of the collection in the new gallery at
the Bedford museum. Details of the display
can be found here
believe passionately at sharing the story of British airships
and their fascinating stories of the people behind the ships,
the technology and their place in history, which is often
overlooked. If you would like us to come and give a talk to
you, then please contact us
Trust's council and members also offer talks and lectures
to history societies and schools, those detailed below are
some of the talks in the last 2 years: