HEDON HAD LINKS to the great airships of the early 20th Century. Or at least that’s what an early Christmas present A Century of Hull by David Gerrard tried to convince me!
According to the book the airship R100 was built at Hedon airfield and launched from there on its maiden flight 80 years ago today.
The story of the R100 being built at Hedon is – alas – a myth probably resulting from a slip of the tongue caused by the similar pronunciation of Hedon to the actual site of construction in Howden.
Howden, or rather RNAS Howden (Royal Naval Air Service) station, boasted the largest airship shed in the world in 1919. It was at Howden and not Hedon aerodrome that the R100 was built. The design team behind the building project was led by Barnes Wallis who later achieved fame as the inventor of the ‘bouncing bomb’ used in the dambuster raid in World War II. Another member of the design team was the soon-to-be acclaimed author Neville Shute.
The R100 was launched on 16th December 1929. It slipped its mooring at Howden at 7.53am and travelled 130 miles via York to Cardington in Bedfordshire (its operational base). The journey took 5 hours 47 minutes.
The R100 could accomodate 100 passengers (including a crew of 37) and had an impressive cruising range of 4,095 miles. It achieved the airspeed record for an airship of 81.5mph in 1930.
Following the crash of the R101 in France on the 5th October 1930, the UK airship building programme was abandoned. The R100 was dismantled and scrapped.
Do any readers of the Hedon Blog have any further information about local links to this story?
Other information of interest:
Airships Online – Airship Heritage Trust