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R101 Airship

The R101 was the last of a number of airship which were built at Cardington, Bedford in one of a pair of huge sheds; (sheds are for airships, hangars are for planes). These sheds are so large they can be seen ten miles away from a vantage point near the village of Brogborough. This is from a picnic area less than one mile from junction 13 on the M1 motorway. (If you take the A412 towards Bedford, the picnic sign can be seen on the left, just beyond Brogborough). There is currently a notice board at the end of the car park that indicates items, that can be seen in the view from the point, including these two sheds.

Air ships are essentially a power driven ballon, lift is afforded by the lighter than air gas in the ballon and by dynamic lift due to their movement through the air. The Zeppelin company pioneered the type known as the rigid frame but American and the British designers also played an important part. The first British ship to fly was the R9 on the 27 Nov 1916. The R23, R27 and the R31 were then built during the F.W.W. and were followed by the R36, R80 and the R100. The R101 was destroyed by fire in 1930 on it's maiden voyage.

The gas used in these ships was hydrogen, a highly explosive and flamable gas when mixed with air. Today there are still a few air ships built but these use Helium ( derived from natural gas). This is very light, oderless, inert and non flamable.

To follow are some photographs of the ship and its consruction.

This shows the  R101 tethered to it's anchor tower prior to its fateful maiden voyage.

This picture shows the airship under construction inside the shed. The pictures have been taken with a long exposure. Any moving objects would, therefore, not be very clear. One can see the ghost image of such a figure in the bottom left hand corner of the picture.

Another picture of the construction viewed from the rear; one can see the form of one of the rear fins.
Also the solid wheeled lorry, in the bottom right of the picture, indicative of the style of vehicle at that time.

This is a picture of an engine for the R37, built some ten years prior to the R101 but was scrapped before completion due to the depression; the photograph is dated 23.11.20. A closer look reveals two people inside the engine compartment, I wonder who they are?




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This is the aerial view of the R101 wreck after the tragic accident in October 1930. It crashed at Beauvais, just north of Paris.

The crash was probably caused by gas leaking from a faulty valve, which was then ingnited from the engine; although it crashed durring a storm and there were also reports that it had design faults and didn't handle well. The photograph below is taken from a view point in the bottom left of this picture and showes the rear left tail wing and flap.


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The Two Sheds

The two sheds, 812 ft long and 157ft high, the Titanic would have fitted in the building with only 40ft of her bow sticking out of the doors. It is a simple fact that the size of an airship is limited, in almost every respect, to the size of the shed it is built in!
The picture here is by courtesy of the Airship Heritage Trust web site. The trust is currently fighting an appeal against the demolition of workshops and administration building associated with these sheds.
To see how you can give them your support click here:- Appeal
To see an example letter to Bedford Borough Council click here:- Letter
The reply to this letter was constructive and very informative so I have decided to include it for viewing here:-Reply

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This is a picture of a more up to date airship (1980s), designed to use helium gas. Also built at Cardington, one can see how it is dwarfed by the shed that once housed the R101.




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Old School Photos

Sacred Heart Convent Shool Nottingham, Class photograph, 1957.

Sister ?Zeta? with her pupils. Click on picture to view a larger image




Class photograph 1955.

Sister Bernard with her pupils in 1955. Click on picture to view a larger image

Anyone recognise themselves here? Leave me a message in the guest book on the "home page".




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Own Home Build

(In the UK)

For most people the place they buy for a home has usually been designed and developed with a commercial motivation rather than their preferences in mind. This is evident when it transpires that we would like to change many things after we move into a new home; many people make conversions at a later date and when the finances allow. It is a natural ultimate ambition, therefore, to want to design and build ones own home to ones own design.

The idea probably seems too daunting for many, but the truth is the process can be tackled by most people who have a strong enough motivation; no knowledge is required as advise and help can be found by asking and reading. What is it that is likely to inspire this motivation? Selling houses is a very large industry, promoted and marketed by a vast array of professionals like construction corporations, estate agents and banks. This is big finance and, as already mentioned, the financial aims of these institutions is not going to achieve quite the same goal the purchaser is likely to be looking for. Self-build allows a person to control their own destiny; here the person providing the funds has the say about how their money is used. In a way it flouts the convention but who of us doesn't have, at least the smallest desire to do that and who also, doesn't want to be in control of their own affairs?

There is a view that self-build offers a cost saving and so it does, but this does not mean that it will necessarily be cheaper to build. The reason for this enigma is that nearly all self-build projects end up larger and to a much higher specification than the average developer's house. What happens is that the self-builder usually ends up with much better value for money. Examples of this, in the project to follow, is 50% more insulation used, double glazing on all windows, solar panels, perimeter intruder protection, built in feature fire place, two car access with a stand up pit in the garage.

The degree of involvement can vary with each individual according to what is right for them, what skills they have themselves, what resources they can utilise, how much time they can dedicate to the work etc. The mix of involvement can vary between just providing the funds and overall management to doing everything themselves from drawing up plans to mixing the cement.

Planning approval. Click on picture to view a larger image
A part copy of a typical detailed planning application with the "Approved" stamp applied.

Apart from acquiring the necessary financial resources, perhaps the most difficult part of home-building is finding somewhere to build. Plots of land are few and far between in most parts of the UK and to acquire one usually depends on sheer perseverance but if you keep looking and enquiring for long enough, something will eventually turn up. Regularly enquire at estate agents in the area you are looking; they do have the odd building plot come through their books from time to time and the more often you enquire the better chance you have of being the first one to enquire after it is put on the books. Besides which, if you've been pestering them long enough they might give you first option just to get you off their backs.
Another possibility is to look out for land that would lend itself to a favourable planning application. Then go and tentatively put the suggestion to the owner, they may have never thought of the idea but if your timing is right, you might just be giving them a good idea with you as their preferred purchaser.

It is advisable not to purchase a plot, however, before an outline planning consent has been given; land is of much less value without a planning agreement and useless to a home builder. Outline planning application for an area of land can be made by anyone, it doesn't necessarily have to be the owner of the land. Outline consent means that the authorities agree in principal to a building going on the land. It may include some restriction or particular specification like a limitation on the use of the building or a restriction on the number of floors for example. Once the principle has been agreed, it is time to make the purchase and then put in a detailed planning application. This is where many are going to bring in the help of a professional draughtsperson. If this is so, find one who is familiar with planning applications and who has knowledge of the specification requirements. At the same time as the planning application a building regulations application will have to be submitted. This is a drawing that gives all the technical details and structure calculations. It requires even more technical knowledge and the same advice applies here as it does with the planning application.

A Building Plot. Click on picture to view a larger image.
Finding a plot; probably the most difficult part of own-home building.


The profile. Click on picture to view a larger image.
Once the topsoil has been removed profiles can be applied. String, tied to a nail into the top of small goal post structures (see middle left of the picture under the apple tree), can be strung across the plot to the required dimentions of the footings. The white lines seen in this picture are lime that has then been applied along the string profiles to mark the ground for the excavator operator.


Concreting the excavated footings. Click on picture to view a larger image.
There are various ways of concreting the footings, usually a 600mm wide x 225mm deep base at a depth of 1000mm depending on the ground conditions, is sufficient. Bricks are then built up to ground level. On this self-build project, a narrower trench was used but filled to the ground level with concrete. The extra cost to have a much more substantial footing was very small when the following savings are taken into account:
Disposing of less excavated earth.
Cost of bricks that would be required.
The labour, sand and cement for laying the bricks.
Also there is a substantial time saving, the footings can be completed in one day, ready for the next stage the following day.


The first brick to be laid. Click on picture to view a larger image.
This was he first brick to be laid. The profiles are also used by the bricklayer and the string lines can clearly be seen in the larger picture, (click on this picture).

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Prepairing for the base. Click on picture to view a larger image.
The brickwork is built up from the foundations to the floor level, the inside space is then filled with quarry waste (Seen in piles in the background of the picture), levelled and compacted ready for the concrete base to be laid on top.


The first panel going into place. Click on picture to view a larger image.
The building is to be of a timber frame construction and this shows the first timber panel going into place. The rest of the timber frame waiting to go up is what is lying flat on the base behind.


The timber frame in place. Click on picture to view a larger image.
This shows most of the timber frame erected. A big advantage with timber frame construction is that it can be erected and the place made secure very quickly.


The roof. Click on picture to view a larger image.
Roofing. The hardest part of this work is carrying all those tiles up on the roof. Don't under estimate this stage of a build, it is a big job!


Brick cladding built up around the perimeter wall.
Brickwork is built around the timberframe. This provides the aesthetics, whether proofing and some insulation but it is not load bearing.


The finished product.
This is the finished product. The total time to complete the project was eight months.

View the chimney build.

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