The Airship Heritage Trust was set up in 1985 by a group of dedicated enthusiasts and relatives of the original crew members. Over the last few years from its humble beginning the Trust has grown and worked very hard to where it is today, with it's membership of over 300 worldwide.
The work carried out by a dedicated band of enthusiasts can be followed in "Our History", which gives the full insight in to a lot of the little known trials and tribulations regarding how difficult the road we have traveled to get where we are today.
The Trust has Council which is a group of "next generation" enthusiasts, whom are younger than the original members but are just as enthusiastic about Cardington, the Airships and belonging to an organisation dedicated to protecting the history for the future
Many of the membership do not live in the Bedford area, however still help out in promoting the Trust with lectures and displays in their own locale.
Airship Heritage Trust - an Overview
Following the closure of the Royal Airship Works in 1936, it was the forethought of employee, Leslie Speed who worked on the airship programme, to salvage and store many of the original records, artifact and photographs.
Trust has been determined to establish a national airship museum at
a suitable location but changes in ownership and use of the airship
sheds at Cardington has meant that the Trust has had to look elsewhere
for a home.
An alternative venue at the nearby Shuttleworth Collection was explored but proved unsuitable. The Trust is now in active discussions with the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton for some of the Trust's collections to be incorporated into their displays - reflecting the historic links between British airships and the Royal Navy. Throughout this period, the AHT has been supported by the Rope Trust, a charitable organisation linked to the family of Sqn Ldr Michael Rope, a highly talented airship engineer who died on the R101.
With much of the original collection added to over the years, the collection includes many unusual artifact and rare photographs. The AHT records and administers a major source of British airship history.
Since 1987, one of our four principal objects of the Airship Heritage Trust, as set out in it's Articles of Association has been to "stimulate public interest in the role of Cardington as an airship base and in the conservation of the principal buildings thereof". It has not - and never has been - the Trust's role to seek the preservation of the whole of the Cardington site nor to seek the retention of the flying field for current or future airship operations. Following the restoration of the Shorts Building our main aim must be now to try to ensure that the two Cardington Sheds are preserved as historic structures, irrespective of whether they are used for lighter-than-air purpose's in the future. It has been the policy of the Trust over a number of years not to comment on planning applications relating to the Cardington site because these have not, generally, been in conflict with the Trust's principal objects. However individual members of the Airship Heritage Trust have been entirely free to submit comments and objections to the relevant planning bodies if they have wished to do so. Following discussions with both English Heritage and Bedford Borough Council regarding the current planning applications submitted by Fosbern Manufacturing Limited, the Trust's Council has found no reason to depart from this policy in the present case.
Trust has moved it's collection with partnership with the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton with a major part of the Trust's collections to be incorporated into their displays. The Trust's extensive library is housed at Cranfield University Library and is available to members and the public. Today the AHT continues to strive to carry out it's objectives in the promotion of the study and history of airships. Many of our members offer lectures to organisations and along with a mobile display which can be seen at local events. The Trust has close links with the RAF Museum, British Balloon Museum and Library, the Airship Association and many other organisations.
2010 80th Anniversary year showed an extensive display
of the some of the collection in the new gallery at the Bedford museum.
Details of the display can be found here