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Millions needed to save decaying airship hangar

URGENT REPAIR work is needed to halt deterioration of one of the historic airship hangars at Cardington.

The owner of the Grade II listed hangar, birthplace of the ill-fated R101 airship, claims it cannot afford to carry out the repairs that the local council is demanding. The roof badly needs replacing and now has netting stretched below it to catch any pieces that fall.

Cardington has two of the massive buildings - the only airship hangars left in the UK. One is owned by the Building Research Establishment and used for full scale testing. After its privatisation, BRE spent several million pounds on repairs. The other was bought by Cardington Properties three years ago and a similar sum is now thought to be needed to repair the other structure.

According to Cardington Properties director Keith Woods, a survey has shown that although the building is structurally sound, the main aisle roof leaks. Replacement is estimated at £1M. Side cladding will also need to be renewed.

Both Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire County Council have threatened to serve notices which would force the owner to carry out repairs.

The Airship Heritage Trust is believed to have submitted a bid for lottery funding and manufacturer Airship Technologies is also thought to be interested (NCE 26 March).

Helena Russell

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