Bedfordshire, EnglandGenWeb Project
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[From Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1831.]

CARDINGTON, a parish in the hundred of WIXAMTREE, county of BEDFORD, 3 miles (E. S. E.) from Bedford, containing, with the chapelry of East Cotts, 1194 inhabitants. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Bedford, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the king's books at 7. 17., endowed with 200 private benefaction, and 200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, contains several ancient monuments, also a tablet in memory of the great philanthropist, John Howard, who lived some years at this place, and served the office of sheriff for the county in 1773; and a splendid modern monument by Bacon, the last of his works, erected in 1799 to the memory of Samuel Whitbread, Esq., whose family first settled here in 1650, at a house called the Barns. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists, and at Cotton End is one for Particular Baptists. The navigable river Ouse runs along the northern side of the parish.

Cardington St. Mary

Cottage next to church - built 1764

Cardington Airship sheds
- once housed the fateful R101

Cardington Cross first erected in 1796
- restored in 1837 by W Whitbread
- moved from it's original position
because of the by-pass.

Direction marker Cardington/Bedford
- erected 1934


Sunday morning October 5th 1930 the British Airship R101 crashed in France with the loss of 48 lives including Lord Thomson, Air Minister and Sir Sefton Brancker Air Vice Marshal.

The R101 at her mooring mast at Cardington shortly before leaving for her ill-fated flight to India, which got no further than a hill in France. It was on Saturday evening 4th October 1930 that the great airship left its mooring mast at Cardington on route for Karachi. Seven hours later at 2:05am she crashed while apparently making for Paris. All but 8 of the 54 she carried died in the crash. As dawn broke the R101 lay shattered and burning on the fields of France. The brains that concieved her were destroyed with her, the flower of British airship achievement crushed and obliterated. The Funeral of the victims took place at St Marys Church Cardington, where they were all buried in one grave. The memorial to those killed can still be seen in Cardington Churchyard as can the charred pennant from the R101 displayed in the nearby Church.

The sheds in which the airships were built are enormous and can still be seen at Cardington/Shortstown. Note they are sheds not hangars(sheds for ships, hangars for airplanes)

Although the victims of the R101 disaster were buried in one flower lined grave at St Mary's Churchyard at Cardington, tens of thousands of their countrymen paid homage at a lying-in-state at Westminster Hall, London, and others at a memorial service in St Paul's. From early morning to past midnight two seemingly endless streams of people walked reverently past the great catafalque bearing the 48 coffins. The Prince of Wales represented the King at the memorial service and a solemn procession through the streets of London, headed by a detachment of the Royal Air Force included Prime Ministers, ministers and representatives of the Dominions and India.

For more on the R101 see 'DOOMED TO DISASTER THE R101'

To see details of the memorial visit:

Airship Sheds Cardington - Various Views

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Last Updated on: 4 December 2002
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