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Friday, 25 April 2014

Another Bedfordshire walk (3)

One of the most prominent, albeit man-made features in this part of Bedfordshire is the Cardington airship hangars. They can be seen for miles around, and you can use them as a convenient navigation reference point. But be prepared, when you first encounter them in real life, to be completely bamboozled when you try to estimate how far away they are. Because they are HUGE. I mean really, truly and monumentally huge. So far removed from anything you have experienced that your eye and brain just cannot compute the perspective; and you will end up thinking they're about half a mile away when in truth the distance is more like five miles. I'm not joking!

This is where, between the wars, the British airship industry briefly flourished; and these sheds are where the prototype British rigid airships R100 and R101 were built, in order to challenge the German zeppelins' stranglehold on the long-range lighter-than-air travel market. The whole endeavor ended in tears when the R101 crashed in France on her maiden trip to India, with considerable loss of life; and the loss of the Graf Zeppelin in an accident in America a few years later eventually put an end to the airship era. But the sheds survive. And we just love 'em, even though they're totally useless. That's Bedfordshire for you.

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