Belonging to the little known
category of British built "private" airships, the "Bournemouth"
was constructed by the Airship Club launched in 1951. As part
of the club, Lord Ventry, Squadron Leader T.P. York-Moore and
a small group of enthusiasts wanted to prove that airships could
still return after the closure of the British Airship programme
The project was funded largely
by private enthusiasm, however the Bournemout Corporation made
a substantial grant from it's "Festival of Britain"
funds to assist with the completion of the craft and for it's
first flight. This is how the British south coast resort managed
to have an airship named after it. The idea being that the completed
ship would play a part in the local celebrations of the Festival
of Britain year.
To keep costs down, the Bournemouth
was not to have a home "base" and the following quote
from "Flight Magazine" 1950
of the most expensive items in the construction of an airship
must be a hangar and at the present time it is one which, in a
private venture, would be virtually impossible of achievement.
Surprisingly, however, an airship is quite amenable to being tethered
in the open, and we are assured by Lord Ventry that, with the
aid of a protective screen of trees, a small non-rigid can safely
ride out a 70 m.p.h. gale if properly picketed. This, therefore,
is the plan for the Bournemouthshe will be kept inflated,
and out-of-doors, during all spells of operational activity that
promise to be fairly continuous."
Having someone to fly the
ship was to prove an interesting issue for the Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA) as the idea behind the project was to give members
of the Club an opportunity of flying in the ship and of learning
to pilot it
Again an issue noted in "Flight"
present anybody who aspires to pilot an airship must hold a 1st,
2nd or 3rd class Airship Pilot's Licence (according to the size
of the craft)having first qualified by securing a private
or commercial Balloon Pilot's Licenceand a Navigator's Ticket.
There is, it seems, no lighter-than-air equivalent of the Provisional
Pilot's Licence, so the eager pupils of the Airship Club are,
clearly, going to present the Ministry of Civil Aviation with
some new problems when the time comes."
The ship was constructed at
Cardington, and the third flight was not overly successful as
the ship crash landed on the hanger roof when a guy rope snagged
when coming in to land. The film clip below interestingly shows
optimism and spirit of the day.
Having a gross lift 3,060lb
and useful lift of 13,000lb, the Bournemouth managed 3 flights
in 1951 and then put in for repairs and a chance for the improvements
for stability following the crash landing. A further eight flights
were managed in 1952. It was found that the first set of steering
planes were too small and made her unstable and she had a top
plane on the first two testing flights of in 1951, however this
was removed. In 1952 a larger set of de Havilland planes were
fitted and made the ship quiet controllable. Only eleven flights
were made through lack of funds, the last flight made on 16th
August 1952, Battle of Britain Day.
If you have any personal memories
or photo's you would like to share of this little known ship,
then please contact the webmaster
and we'll be happy to add them to the site for you