A History of RAF Cardington 1936-2000.

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Group Captain Arthur Ashford Benjamin Thomson the first CO of the station was the holder of a Military Cross and Bar awarded whilst serving in WW1.

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RAF Cardington situated just two miles south of Bedford was formed in 1936. It was based at the former airship works where the R101 was built.

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Some station records (ORBS) - a great source of information

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This memorial stone kindly designed and sponsored by Bellway Homes stands infront of the old HQ.

Hello welcome to the RAF Cardington history website. This is an updated version of the website www.cardingtoncamp.co.uk which is now closed. I have been researching the history of the station since 2009. I lived opposite the old site from 2004-2018 and was constantly surprised to discover new facts and stories about the station. Based at the site of the former Royal Airship Works where the famous R101 airship was built RAF Cardington was formed on 15th December 1936. Given the expertise already on site it is no surprise that the first unit to take up residence on January 1st 1937 was the No 1 Balloon Training Unit. The station was made up of three distinct sections – Balloon Units, Recruit Units and the Gas Plant. In WW2 nearly 300,000 recruits passed through the gates and post war a similar number of combined regular and National Service recruits were assessed here.

During WW2 as many as 8,000 people worked at the station. There were regular dances, drama productions, concerts and a whole range of sporting activities and competitions along with a gym, a church and a cinema.

This was certainly a vibrant very lively and noteworthy station which contributed much to the RAF during and after the war and to town life in Bedford. The station closed on 31st March 2000. Enjoy! - Jane Harvey. April 2021.

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Aircraft Storage Unit 1932-1938.

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Station Rugby Team 1937/1938 in front of the Station Headquarters.

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Cardington flight dated 7th Sept 1938.

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No.16 Squad taken July 1939. Peter Kavanagh first on the left of the 2nd row from the back.

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Dining Room and Cooking Staff 2.R.C Christmas 1941.

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C Flight July 8 1942. Alfred William Lister - 3rd right middle row with glasses.

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Balloon Development Establishment RAF Cardington circa 1942.

Flight M on November 9th 1941 with Robert Clinkaberry "3rd right middle row with specs."

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Civilian canteen workers circa 1943.

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A de havilland airplane by the side of one of the sheds. Date unknown.

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Kathleen Elsie Reader (nee Swift) - a WAAFS journey in WW2.

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A drama production performed at the staiton 1943.

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The Balloon Command Signals Unit in May 1944.

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Demob at the station June 1945.

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Staff at No 2 Recruit Centre July 1946.

Dutch football team with their winning trophy at Cardington in April 1945.

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Men on training excercises 1946.

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Front cover of Station Christmas Dinner menu December 1948.

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Father Christmas arriving at the station 1948 or 1949.

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The Cardingtonian station magazine March 1949.

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Mr Aidan Crawley MP, Undersecretary Of State For Air visits 23 May 1950. Photo courtesy Beds Archives Box 4042 J Day.

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Interior Church of England Church at the station early 1950's.

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National Service recruits 1956-57.

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A group of civilian girls serving drinks at a station dance in the late 1950's.

Website compiled by Jane Harvey. February 2022.