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Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Thursday, 30 September 2010 14:17 UK
80th anniversary of R101 disaster marked at exhibition
The airship sheds at Cardington
The airships inside their sheds at Cardington

An exhibition about the R100 and R101 Airships at Cardington is to open at the Bedford Gallery.

The exhibition, which opens on 2 October 2010, will coincide with the 80th Anniversary of the R101 disaster.

The display has been organised with the support of the Airship Heritage Trust.

It will chart the story of how the small Bedfordshire village became the country's major airship centre in the 1930s.

Fateful flight

Starting with the building of the huge airship sheds at Cardington and the village of Shortstown, the exhibition will explore the government's grand plans for long-distance airship travel across the British Empire.

A passenger bunk from the R100
A passenger bunk from the R100

Film, photographs and objects will bring to life the construction of the R100 and R101, the stories of the staff and crew and the R101's final fateful flight to India in October 1930.

The exhibition includes a wide variety of objects on loan from museums and private collections, on display together for the first time in Bedford.

Personal belongings, unique documents and objects including a passenger bunk bed from the R100 will show what life was like onboard these giants of the sky, designed to be 'floating hotels'.

Iconic sheds

Although airship building slowed down after the crash of the R101, the exhibition will also show how this was far from the end of the story of Cardington.

The exhibition includes personal belongings
The exhibition includes personal belongings

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: "Cardington is of course famous for its connections with the airship industry. The iconic sheds, which housed the R100 and R101 airships, are visible for miles around, and are striking reminders of this significant feature of Bedford's history."

Further events at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum include:

  • 1930s on Film screening will provide a great insight into what life was like on board the R101. The British Pathé newsreel will feature rare glimpses of the R101 in flight alongside clips of popular entertainers of the day, Sunday 31 October, 3 - 4pm.
  • There will also be an Airships Big Draw Family Day on Saturday 16 October, 11 - 4pm. The Event is part of the national Big Draw Campaign, organised by The Campaign for Drawing, which runs for the whole month of October. This year there will be some monster airship making, joined by experts from the Airship Heritage Trust.
  • There will be an airship theme to the Friday Family Drop-In during October half-term Holiday. Suitable for all ages - go along and build your own model airship. The session begins at 11am - 1pm and is repeated from 2 - 4pm on Friday 29 October.
  • There will be a special evening lecture on Thursday 21 October at 7pm. Bedford's Own - the R101 Airship Disaster will be given by Giles Camplin and Peter Davidson.

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