Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big Sheds Need Friends

According to the BBC:

A historic landmark in Bedfordshire has been put on the market with a price tag of close to £10m.
Cardington Hangars were built in the 1920s to house giant airships such as the R101 which crashed and caught fire in France in 1930.

Now shed number one, the older of the two hangars, and 170 acres of surrounding land has been put up for sale by owners, Frontier Estates. The Grade II-listed building is on Britain's buildings at risk register.

Planning permission has been secured for 550 houses to be built on the land, with the condition the 157ft (48m) tall and 812ft (247m) long hangar would be refurbished.

An earlier BBC report (October 2006) relates the plan:
The hangars need refurbishment at an estimated cost of £6m. The required money could come from the sale of land to a housing developer.

This scheme has won the backing of local people who opposed a proposal to build an industrial warehouse. Residents in nearby Shortstown objected to the warehouse project because of the possibility of hundreds of lorries passing through their village every day.

Frontier Estates which owns the land and one of the hangars has applied for planning permission to develop it into housing.

The plan was outlined here in Building April 2007:
Architect submits plans for Cardington Airfield which includes 425 dwellings and a park honouring 48 who died airship crash.

The scheme will include up to 425 dwellings as well as an area of open space called Airship Park. When built, this will replicate the size and shape of the R101 airship, which measured 777ft from nose to tail, and tragically crashed in 1930 killing 48 people.

The project is due to commence in 2008 with completion in 2012.

And links to a drawing:

Looks nice in projection, but I'm not sure that from the ground the 'airship' shape would be noticeable. However it would at least be a step forward from the perennial Bath crescent.

Looks like the UK's financial woes may have stopped a worthwhile project, maybe temporarily, hopefully not permanently.

I was lucky enough to go (as a passenger) for a flight in Peter Holloway's 1930s Miles Magister over these marvellous buildings. From the air or the ground they are a magnificent - and in the rolling Bedfordshire countryside - startling sight.

While there's an idea that a chap's shed can never be too big, these behemoths may be a step beyond. Their sheer size (and thus historical importance in aviation) count against them.

There are all-too-few items of listed aviation architecture, and these are outstanding in any measure.

Let's hope there's a future for them.

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