During the Spring of 1917, the first Rigid airship was taking
construction, the No. 25. Workers from the Vickers Barrow-in-Furness
site were sent to assist with the construction of the ship.
Armstrong Whitworth transported the components from their
works in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
A railway siding had been placed next to the shed for the
ease of transfer of the components. In this time, the hydrogen
plant was also completed.
The sheds location was in the middle of a wood, and
although this may sound very curious, as all existing airship
sheds had been sited in open flat land. The reason for this
siting was that the trees would act as natural windbreaks,
however it was later decided to fell the trees around the
shed and artificial windbreaks were put in place.
construction works at Barlow, being a twin shed, could construct
two ships at a time. By the time the No.25 had made its
first flight in the end of 1917, the R29 was taking shape
under construction next to it. The R29 took flight not long
after on 29th May 1918, and delivered in June 1918 to East
Fortune in Scotland.
soon as the No.25 had vacated the space, the next ship,
designated the R33, was commenced in its place. As
sister ship, the R35, was almost completed by the time the
Armistice was signed in November 1918. Armstrong Whitworth
had hopes that there would still be a market for airships,
and plans were underway to complete a second large shed
at Barlow. Work continued on the R33, and in 1919, it was
completed and walked out of the shed.
plan had been proposed that the R33 make a trip to Newfoundland
in America, from Barlow, however the Admiralty intervened,
as it didnt want the R33 to return to the Barlow site,
as it was not classed as an operational airship station,
but a constructional site. It was also a conflict of interest
as the R34 was about to embark on its flight across
the Atlantic. In April 1920, the R33 was flown to Pulham,
and carried out its long and successful life from
the Pulham station.
R33 was the last airship to be built at Barlow. Despite
the successes and speed of construction of airships during
the war, there were no follow on orders for a constructional
site. In April 1919, the workers received notice of redundancy
due to the fact that there were no further orders to fulfil.
shed was later dismantled later in the 1920s, and
without the extension of the shed, it would not have fitted
the plans for the next generation of airship. Despite a
few further schemes to use on the site, nothing came to
fruition. The site today is part of the Drax Power station
site, and part forms a nature reserve.