RAF Cardington started life as a private venture when Short Brothers bought land there to build airships for the Admiralty. They constructed a 700-foot-long (210 m) Airship hangar (the No. 1 Shed) in 1915 to enable them to build two rigid airships, the R-31 and the R-32. Shorts also built a housing estate, opposite the site, which they named Shortstown. Most of the former RAF station is actually in the parish of Eastcotts, as is the settlement of Shortstown. In the 1950s, during the time of National Service, RAF Cardington was the reception unit, where thousands of conscripts went to be issued with their kit. The Parachute Regiment were stationed there as one of the hangars housed the balloons from which trainees made their first drops. In 1954 RAF Maintenance Command used Shed No.1 for their rehearsals for the Royal Tournament.
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