|This is all there is to see of the site of an airship station from the 1920s. The circular concrete circles were the bases of gas tanks and water tanks. All traces of the huge hangars have long since disappeared.|
In 1915, during the First World War, the British Admiralty needed a suitable site in north-east England for a new airship station, to protect the ports and ships from the threat of attack by German U-boats.
RNAS Howden opened in 1916 with its airship hangars. It provided not only protection for shipping along the east coast, but also jobs for hundreds of civilians. This helped to turn round the town's fortunes, which had been suffering since the building of the port at nearby Goole, and the passing of the horse fairs.
Between the wars, and then during the Second World War, the author Nevil Shute worked in Howden for the Airship Guarantee Co, as part of the team that created the R100. While here, Shute worked alongside Barnes Wallis, the scientist and inventor of the bouncing bomb. Shute lived at number 78 Hailgate, and a plaque is now fixed to the house to commemorate this.