Civilian Workers.

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Margaret Cox (centre front row) with colleagues in 1942-45.

Margartet Cox - canteen worker RAF Cardington.

The photograph shown left with kind permission of Mrs Margaret Cox shows her and other ladies who worked in the canteen on the camp during WW2. In her own words....

'This photograph was taken outside the civilian canteen around 1942-1945. Although the work was hard we had some great times. During the morning we would go over to the Offices and Fabric Shop with a trolley with tea and coffee for the workers, then at lunch time meals were served. I worked in a small room come shop off the canteen selling different chocolates and sweets when available as there was still rationing. I met my husband while working in the canteen. He was an MT driver working at 25 MT Hartelbury. He used to come to Cardington regularly. We moved and came to live in Shortstown in Oct 1955 - he got a transfer from Hartelbury."

Thank you Mrs Cox.

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Cardington Employees Dance at the Corn Exchange Bedford. 8 Apr 1941. BP Box 1054

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Michael Spavins  - Civilian Employee 1959 - 1965

Below is an interview with Michael Spavins by Alan Thomas.

"My name is Michael Spavins, I was born and bred in Bedford and lived with my parents at Hartington St. During my youth RAF Cardington was a major employer in the area and at age sixteen and a half I obtained employ with the Air Ministry Works Dep (AMWD) at the camp. I was employed as a Trainee Storeman in a busy storage area. My main tasks were packing and despatching Runway Electrical Accessories to various RAF Units worldwide. During quiet periods I was employed on painting tasks.

The AMWD Store area was located on the end of the main industrial buildings.We had our own goods siding and there was regular railway traffic being shunted to the sidings at Cardington Station for onward destinations by British Rail. There was a diesel locamotive that was kept in the engine shed next to the stores.

At age 18 I transferred to work on the 217 Maintenance Unit Gas Plant for a more varied job where I was employed on Soft Water Processing and Compressor Maintenance. There was plenty of scope for overtime and I often worked weekends. I remained in this field of work for some 2 years and left to become a Milk Rounds man. After 12 months I was back at Cardington working as a Contract Painter for W D Johnstone of Kempston who sub contracted painters to the AMWD. I was employed on painting the gantries in No 1 Airship Hangar. Not a task for the faint hearted. Regrettably after a few months due to ill health I had to return to work within the civilian community.

I have fond memories of being employed at RAF Cardington, there was a sense of belonging where everyone took care of everyone else, it was like being part of a village community. You were encouraged to take part in youth activities and I was a founder member of the RAF Cardington Civilian Football XI. We did not play in a league however I recall beating such teams as Elstow Abbey and Bedford Park Rangers, these were top local teams in those days. There was a free bus from Bedford to the Saturday night dances on the canp where many famous groups appeared.

"Local civilians were permitted access to the Astra Cinema and it was on such an occasion that I met my wife Carol. One evening during Feb 1962 accompanied by my friend Alfie Bone we decided to go and watch the film - Two Way Stretch - starring Peter Sellers. On taking my seat I noticed a young lady sitting with friends in the back row. It developed that she was staying with a friend in Married Quarters. I was immediately attracted to her and recall using the phrase "are you a lone gooseberry?" She said yes so I replied "shall we be two gooseberries together?" This became our first date and we were married in Aug 1964.

A big thank you to the Astra Cinema RAF Cardington for giving me the opportunity to meet my wife, some 48 years later we are still happily married. Over the years I have developed some artistic skills and in memory of our meeting I shall be happy to paint a picture of the cinema during that period to be displayed."*

*Go to the Entertainments page to see Michaels wonderful painting.


Thank you Mr Spavins for sharing your memories here. - Jane.

Cardington Employees Dance at the Corn Exchange Bedford. 8 Apr 1941. BP Box 1054

Cardington Employees Dance. 6 Jan 1942. BP Box 1255