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Cardington Airship Mooring Mast, site of
Shortstown, Bedfordshire
associated engineer
Not known
date  1926
UK era  Modern  |  category  Airfield/Hangar/Aeronautics  |  reference  TL082470
By 1929, Cardington Airship Station — begun in 1917 — was poised to become the UK hub of international airship operations. An essential element of the station was its 62m high steel framed open mooring mast, which stood on the site until 1943.
Measuring 21m in diameter at its base, and the first cantilevered tower of its type, the mast enabled the 'lighter than air' airships to swing around freely to continue face into the wind as the wind shifted — a safe method of mooring. A winch was used to bring an airship into dock at the mast head, avoiding the need for the craft to get itself into an exact position (reversing was a particularly difficult manoeuvre). Weights were attached to the tail end of the airship to complete the mooring operation.
The mast had a staircase climbing up the centre of the tower for passenger and service personnel access. The stair connected to the airship via a high level platform. Even so, a steeply angled gang plank was required from the top of the tower to the airship’s passenger cabin.
Hydrogen from a generating plant and a water supply were available at the mast head. The winch house for the winding gear was a brick built structure at the base of the mast.
Cardington was the only UK location for the government-backed Empire Communication Scheme, a network of airship landing sites across the then British Empire. A mast similar to Cardington's was constructed near Montreal in Canada. The airship R100 used it when it travelled across the Atlantic in 1930. On that occasion, one of the flight crew decended by parachute to supervise the docking of the airship. However, facilities in Egypt and India that had been built in readiness for flights of the R100 and R101 were never used.
The Cardington mast was demolished in 1943.
Research: ND
"Slide Rule - The Autobiography of an Engineer" by Nevil Shute
William Heinemann, London, 1956

Cardington Airship Mooring Mast, site of