Click here to return home 

Airship Sheds
Cardington - Indoor Inflation Record
Shed 1 80th Birthday

The following is a photo essay and reproduction of a report from Dirigible MAgazine (Spring 1997) outlining the cold day in February 1997 when a record breaking 93 balloons were inflated INSIDE shed no.1.
A record which still stands today.

February 15th dawned cold and bright at Cardington, showing a week of storms and a spell of throughly bad February weather. Of the two massive sheds, which looks stunning broadside on from Cotten End with the dawn light streaming on to them over the hill, No.1 alone gave a clue to the secret to be revewled inside it's mighty doors standing slightly ajar.

Waling in to one of the side offices within the shed, I realised it is cold, very cold, with a chill seeping from the feet upwards through the bones. Today, after months of meticulous preparation, the BBML "Inflation Event" was to try and set the records for the "largest number of hot air balloons inflated INSIDE a building". But, as "an observer and crew member" from the AHT at a BBML event, I was attending a WRN's wedding, or was there a role to play. The latter soon transpired with plenty of time to publicise the Trust, through our photographic display, and earn some hard currency at the same time, as well as having a prime position from which to enjoy the Inflation. Huddling round Den Burchmore's trusty heater, we were still trying to wonder how on earth the shed floor could be so cold; it gave us a sense of reality as to how the riggers and crews of old, must have flet working long hours there.

Content in the knowledge that the file and medical services, and 230 (Bedford) Squadron of the Air Training Corps were on hand to cope with possible emergencies (there were none), the day wore on, and the largest empty space I haveever seen, began to fill with the roar of burners, and acres of material billowing roofwards to form shapes generally recognisable as oht air balloons, although some are not distinguishable as such until fully inflated; the rotund grey balloon with five dangly bits that duly becomes a a 40ft elephant; for example; or the giant red-and-black tablecloth that somehow rises drily into a Fire Extinguisher. The level of noise increases, and so, to our joy, does the level of heat.

The Shed becomes pleasantly warm - but I am stil glad of the extra t-shirt I have on - and with so many burners going off at once, someone comments that the site resembles a Kuwaiti nocturne during the Gulf War. It is only then that I notice how dark the Shed has become with all the skylights obliterated by the sheer number of balloons. Looking upward we see giant inflated cells of fabric pressing against the outer framework, giving us a glimpse of how the scene might once have been when the shed was full of airshpi. Suddenly the "launch" of one of Don Cameron's balloons gives an idea of the true size of the Shed as it floats upwards towards the roof. with plenty of room to spare.

The actual inflation attempt was adjudicated by the Mayor of Bedford, and the results submitted to the Guinness Book of records; some 93 man-carrying balloons were inflated at one time, the total number of inflations during the day was 172, and a further two balloons flew free without inflating in the shed. In all a great success for the BBML for the planning and execution of what might seem to the layman a logistical nightmare; but a great spectacle notheless, and a novel way of providing some balloons to celebrate the 80th birthday of No.1 Shed!

Saturday 15th February 1997
Inflation time 08:30 - 17:00
176 balloons in attendance during the day. 93 inflated at the same time.

Record Not beaten to date.
As No1 Shed built Aug 1916-April 1917.

The event could be described as the 80th Birthday Party of the Shed!Inflations started at 0830 and continued through to 1715 - another record?

One balloon was inflated for over 6 hours in the day (G-HOOV Cameron N-56).








Back to the index

Copyright © 2019 Airship Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved. Copying and/or redistributing of any files is illegal under international copyright law. AHT is not responsible for the content of external sites.