RAF Cardinton Church.
The 20 page booklet charting the history of the Church at the station shown above was found in a Bedford book shop a few years ago.
Now and again we all have a bit of good luck. About eight years ago I was rumaging through a pile of old booklets and documents in a Bedford bookshop and came across this litle gem of a booklet above. Well to me this was a priceless find and so I quickly grabbed hold of it and and made my way to the counter. As there was no price marked on it I took a deep breath and asked how much it was and was told it was the princely sum of £3! What a good day that was! I was able to learn so much about the church and to see some of the names of the Station Chaplains as shown above left was a real bonus.
We know that at one time the station was home to at least three denominations of churches - Church of England, Catholic, and Other Denomination. Back in 1936 services were held in a building which housed the cinema, there was a small chapel at the back of the stage with the Chaplains' offices located near the entrance. In 1942 these offices were converted into a new but smaller church which could accommodate 40 people but from 1944 to 1951 the main Sunday services were held in the local church at Cardington village.
However in 1951 a Civilian Social Club located near the main entrance was converted into a Church of England church and from this time all C. of E. services were held there. By 1953 the church even had stained glass windows which had been designed by a L.A.C. Randall, one of the young men serving on the site at the time. It is not known what happened to these windows which by all accounts were quite impressive. Choir stalls were also added with room for visiting choirs to attend.
Attending church was compulsory for all RAF personnel and only on a few rare occasions were services suspended. Services were cancelled between March & May 1938 due to an epidemic and once in Sept 1940 due to an air raid warning. The severe winter of 1947 coupled with a national fuel shortage limited services to one each Sunday as the camp almost ground to a halt for ten weeks.
The Church also took an active part in civilian life - local children attended Sunday School on the camp from 1937 to 1940 and from 1945 onwards (during the war years the children attended Sunday School at nearby Cardington church for safety reasons). The church also supported Brownie, Guides and Scout groups.
Details taken from the booklet record that from 1945-1951 987 recruits were confirmed by the Bishop of St Albans whilst at the station.
The church closed in 1960.