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The Trust - Its Objectives And Works
Below are the short form report and accounts and can be downloaded in PDF format along with the AGM Agenda and voting form.
AGM Agenda and Proxy Voting form 2023 Download
Report and Accounts
Annual Report 2022 Download
Annual Report 2021 Download
Annual Report 2020 Download
Annual Report 2019 Download
Annual Report 2018 Download
Annual Report 2017 Download
Annual Report 2016 Download
Annual Report 2015 Download
Annual Report 2014 Download
Annual Report 2013 Download
"Airships Unboxing" - In association with Bedford Creative Arts and the Higgins Museum Bedford. An online Social history project.

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 spanning many countries, worldwide.

        Our Objectives

        The three main principal objectives of the Trust are:

                    • To foster and promote the study of the history of airships and to present this to the public

                    • To stimulate public interest in the role of Cardington as an airship base, and encourage the preservation of it's principal buildings

                    • To promote the development of a national museum and study centre devoted to the airship

The work carried out by a dedicated band of enthusiasts can be followed in "Our History" page, 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 operated with a council of 7 Trustees bringing a broad spectrum of interests and knowlege in lighter than air history and a passion for sharing this for the future. Any AHT member can join the council and we also have non Trustees who can attend the council meetings, and bring their wealth knowledge and experience to the running of the Trust.

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. We have an extensive photo archive, a large number of display photots and also many materials and artefacts which we can show to a school or societly. We are always looking for new members and volunteers who have an interest in lighter than air history, and so please contact us.

We work alongside the Higgins Museum, Bedford, the Fleet Air Air, Yeovilton to assist with displays and funding for special LTA events, as well as working with Bedfordshire Country Council to assist with local historical knowlege.

Our inhouse magazine "Dirigible" is distibuted free to members worldwide, three times per year, and is also recorded as a science journal by the British Museum, and the Smithonian Mueuem and Library in Washington, USA. The lecture programme is proving very popular, as member undertake lectures to history societies and also other interested organisations, often requesting further talks in to other parts of the British lighter than air history. Along with our magazine, our members recieve regular updates via our newsletters during the year.

We are also very active on our social media pages, so check out our Facebook Airship Heritage Trust Page and Group offer advice on how to find long out of print books, and also reviews of new books.

Due to the CoronaVirus pandemic, we have been unable to reach out to the public as much as we had wanted using traditional methods by talks etc, however we have moved online and our recent addition of a YouTube Channel is a new and popular way of presenting and sharing the knowledge of airship history. We also moved online for all our AGM and talks, but look to combining both physical meetings along with online meetings in the future.

We have set up an office, LTA library and archive which we are using for a digitisation project, to bring as much historical materials online and to be shared with the public. We are more than happy to have visitors to the office and come and see some of the items we have and use the library for research. Please see our Contact Us page for visiting our office.

Our Office Library and Archive
Main Office
Scanning area in the archive and library room


Some work carried out by the Trust.

Dirigible Editor, Dr Giles Camplin being interviewed for The Hindenburg Disaster : 10 Fatal Mistakes (Channel 5 Select 2022)
AHT's President, Paul Ross inside Cardington Shed 2 appearing on BBC's Great British Railway Journeys with Micheal Portillo in 2020.
AHT Chairman Alastair Lawson at the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust Sir Henry Royce Memorial Lecture 2019
Some of the items on display at the Bedford Higgins Museum for the 2021 Airship Dreams exhibition.
The Higgins Museum Collections Gallery and Airship Dreams Community Curatorial display 2021-2022
The last post sounded for the victims of the R. 101 crash on the 90th Anniversary 5th October, 2020.
Due to the 2020 Covid restrictions, a smaller R. 101 90th Anniversary memorial attended by the Royal Air Force and representatives of the AHT Trust, victimins families and local Parish council.
The plaque to the fallen. The first time a plaque to commemorate civillian losses has been allowed in St Stephens Hall, normally reserved to commemorate the laying in State of Monarchs.


Our Patron, Baronness Smith giving a speech in St Stephens Hall, Palace of Westminster
The AHT was insrumental in having a plaque installed in St Stephens Chapel, in the Palace of Westminster to commemorate the victims of the R 101 who were laid in state in October 1930
Unveilling of the new information plaque by Patron Baroness Smith of Basildon.
Patron Baroness Smith of Basildon with reprentatives of the AHT, Reverend Steven Smith of Cardington Chruch and Alan Appling of the Cardington Parish Council
The Trust undertakes the responsibility maintaing and restoration the R. 101 grave and memorial at Cardington Church cemetary.
The R. 101 model made by AHT member and supporter Alan Moreton, dontated to Shortstown Primary School, with model of the new school below the ship.
The community entrance spaces inside the Shorts Building tells the story of the R. 101 and work which went on there, provided by the AHT.
Working with the Transport Trust, the Shorts Building was registered as a Transport Heritage Side.

About Us....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.

The Organisation

Set up in 1985 by the relatives of the 1921-36 airship programme and originally known as F.O.C.A.S (Friends of the Cardington Airship Station).

The 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.

The 2010 R 101 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

Due to the global pandemic, the R 101 90th Anniversary exhibition and commemorations were put on hold and delayed until 2021. We worked with Bedford Creative Arts and the Higgins Museum in Bedford to help assist with the "Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity" art installation, along with the communities curatorial exhibition open in July 2021 and running until March 2022.

Talks and Lectures

We believe passionately at sharing the story of British airships and their fascinating stories of the people behind the ships, the technology and their place in history, which is often overlooked. If you would like us to come and give a talk to you, then please contact us

We are happy to deliver talks and lectures both online and in person.

The Trust's council and members also offer talks and lectures to history societies and schools, those detailed below are some of the talks in the last few years:




Buckden History Society

Buckden Village Hall, Buckden, Cambs

Ipswich Tansport Society Greenfinch, Ipswich Suffolk
Colchester Archelogical Group Afternoon Meeting Online
  Colchester Archelogical Group Evening Lecture Group Online
  RAeS (Loughborough Branch) Online
  RAeS (Weybridge Branch) Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey
  Kempston Over 50's Club Kempston, Bedford.
  Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. Rolls-Royce Learning & Development Centre, Derby
  RAeS (Derby & Hucknall branch) Rolls-Royce Leisure, Nightingale Rd, Derby
  Bromley House Library members. Bromley House Library Nottingham
  Ellington Womens Institute Ellington, Cambs
  Rolls Royce Owners Club and Sir Henry Royce Memorial Lecture Paulsbury, Northamptonshire
  Newport Pagnell Historical Society Newport Pagnell
  Colne Valley Classic Car Club Colne Valley
  Dacorum National Trust Association St John's Church Hall, Boxmoor
  Cambridgeshire Vintage Tractor Club Bourn Village Hall
  Leighton Buzzard Old Glory Group Billington Village Hall
  Olney Archaeological and Historical Society Olney
  Honourable Company of Air Pilots RAF Club,Piccadilly
  Leighton Buzzard Archaeological and Historical Society Leighton Buzzard
  Shuttlewoth Collection Annual Lecture Shuttleworth Collegel(Old Warden)
  International Nevil Schute Conference Baliol College, Oxford
  Milton Keynes Aviation Society Miton Keynes
  Shortstown/Bedford - For Residents Shorts Bldg,Shortstown
  AGM of the Airship Association London
  White Waltham Flying Club White Waltham.
  St Paul’s Church, Bedford St Paul’s Sq, Bedford

ATC Biggin Hill 2427 Squadron

Biggin Hill Airfield, Biggin Hill
  The Aston Martin Owners Club The Kings Arms, Cardington
  Rotary Club of Walton-on-Thames Burhill Golf Club. Walton-on-Thames
  St Albans Rotary Club St Albans Saint’s Rugby Club
  Institute of Mechanical Engineers Luton
  Irchester Historical Society Irchester Library


Local Support

The Airship Heritage Trust realises the importance of local support for history, and so finances the improvement and is committed to the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the R101 memorial tomb, at the St Mary's Church, Cardington. Click here to show the work being undertaken

For the children of Shortstown Primary School, the Airship Heritage Trust financed a display of a model of the R101, with a scale model of the school below the ship to show the true scale of the airship. The Trust also financed the frame display of the R101 tapestry, again on show to the children at Shortstown Primary School. The Trust is also proud to offer financial assistance to the Shortstown Heritage Gateway Project.

The Trust also was instrumental and worked with the Transport Trust to have the Short's Building (also known as the Adminstration Block) recognised for it's historical importance, and had a Transport Trust "Red Wheel" accreditation, placed on the building.

The R101 Memorial at St Mary's Church, Cardington
Shortstown School R101 model and tapestry
Transport Trust Red Wheel on the Shorts Building
Blue Sky Thinking Exhibition at the Higgins Museum Bedford
Some of our talks and lectures at our Annual General Meetings

Photo Gallery some of the contents of the collection and Museum - when based at R A F Cardington, also activities taken by the Trust and it's members.
Above are a selection of display items and detailed models by AHT member George Ambridge
Some of the Airship Heritage Trust items on dispaly at the Bedford Museum display 2010
A display set up for the Cardington Inflation Day
The display put on for the Shuttleworth Millennium Event
Trevor Monk's Sponsored walk to the sheds
Alastair Lawson's Sponsored Bungee Jump
AHT Mobile Display at Harpenden Library

Copyright © 2023 Airship Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved. Copying and/or redistributing of any files is illegal under international copyright law. Airship Hertage Trust is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Copyright © 2023 Airship Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved. Copying and/or redistributing of any files is illegal under international copyright law. Airship Hertage Trust is not responsible for the content of external sites.