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Airship Sheds
United Kingdom - Pembroke

Country : United Kingdom Location: RNAS Pembroke Airship Station (Alternative Name: Milton)

2 Sheds: 1 Coastal Class Shed
1 Single Submarine Scout Class Shed
(302ft long 70ft wide and 50ft high)
1 Silcol plant
1 Gasholder.



RNAS Pembroke

To safeguard the shipping lanes in the Irish Sea and the links to one of Britain's major port hub, Liverpool, it was decided that two RNAS airship stations based in Wales.

The first base was situated on the Isle of Anglesey, some 12 miles south east of Holyhead, and 8 miles north west of Cananavron. The second site of Pembroke was chosen located on land south of the River Carew. The site was commissioned mid way during the First World War, in January 1916.

The first airship to arrive was a Submarine Scout class ship (S.S.15) which had been built at Wormwood Scrubs airship factory.


To begin with, only a small portable Submarine Scout shed was erected whilst the main sheds were being constructed. However during a storm on 19th April, the wind tore the canvas door off the shed, and so the ship had to be hurriedly moved in to the partially assembled Coastal Class shed which was in the process of being erected.

The first flight from the new RNAS Pembroke station was on 25th April, 1916, when the S.S.15 took to the skies on a short flight of only some 35 minutes although it had covered an impressive aerial flight distance of 16 miles.The first Coastal class airship, C.6 arrived in May 1916.

This class of ship had a much larger range compared to the Submarine Scout Class ship. RNAS Pembroke would be responsible for patrolling the seas to the Western Approaches and protect the shipping convoys.

The portable Submarine Scout Shed made of timber before the windbreaks were added.
The first windbreak being added in June 1916

By May, the airship sheds were still incomplete, and inducements were being made to the contractor to try and complete the contract as quickly as possible. One of the main difficulties the contractor was having was that he was struggling finding skilled local labour. It’s also forgotten that throughout the First World War, most construction work was forbidden on Sundays for religious reasons.

The Coastal Shed was completed in June 1916, with the exception of concreting it’s floor. A minor setback occurred on 5th August when an explosion in the gas generator house. It was powerful enough to lift the heavy generator more than 2ft off the ground. The roof rafter fractured and pipe work was ruptured. The casualty list was three workers were seriously injured, and seven other men received minor injuries. It took another month for the main structural damage to be repaired and a new plant was in the process of being installed.

The Pembroke airship crews saw action with the endangerment and bombing of submarines which were spotted out to sea.

In January 1918, disaster struck with the crew of Submarine Scout Zero S.S.Z 17 were undertaking works on the main car of the ship. The ship suddenly burst in to flame, and unable to extinguish the fire, and with fear of hydrogen a=gas explosion, they fled the building. The Ships envelope caught alight and burst in to flames, and 10 minutes later the 100lb bombs attached to the car of the ship also exploded. Fortunately the damage was localised to the concrete trench in which the ship was sitting. The fire caught hold of the wooden framework of the shied, and was not extinguished until 9:00pm that evening. Almost half the shed was destroyed, which caused a problem for housing the other ships as well.

Repairs were tendered to local firms to repair the damage, with a stipulation that it had to be completed within 3 months. A temporary mooring out site was used to protect the ships which could not be housed elsewhere. RNAS Pembroke was seen as crucial to be able provide shipping protection and so it was essential to have it back fully operational as quickly as it could.

After the Armistice in November of 1918, airships flew on patrol and also mine sweeping exercises from Pembroke until January 1919. The Station was decommissioned in the same month. Many of the buildings were demolished as with other RNAS stations, and the land was sold off in lots. Most of the original buildings were cleared away to make way for the new RAF aerodrome of Carew Cheriton. The site remained strategically important as during World War II RAF aircraft flew from the RAF base to perform the same action as had been done by t he SS and Coastal Class ships in the First World War, by protecting the convoys of the western approaches.

Click on the image above to take a 3D tour of the RNAS Pembroke Submarine Scout shed.
A plan view of the portable shed design


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