Search

Village marks historic airship feat

PUBLISHED: 10:44 02 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 12 July 2010

Villagers in Pulham St Mary are set to mark the 90th anniversary this month of the historic two-way crossing of the Atlantic in 1919 by the R34 airship.

Villagers in Pulham St Mary are set to mark the 90th anniversary this month of the historic two-way crossing of the Atlantic in 1919 by the R34 airship.

The village achieved international fame when the massive 634ft aircraft landed at Pulham Air Station following its epic journey of some 3,130 miles. The station band played to welcome the airship back, with crowds of well-wishers plus the 400 servicemen and local residents required to land her.

The R34 had taken off from East Fortune, near Edinburgh, on July 2 with a crew of thirty plus one stowaway William Ballantyne, who was discovered mid-Atlantic. It landed 108 hours and 12 minutes later at Mineola, New York to a tumultuous reception.

Major Pritchard parachuted to the ground to supervise the landing process, becoming the first man to parachute onto American soil.

The return journey took just over 75 hrs.

'Pulham Pigs' was the nickname given to the airships stationed at Pulham St Mary during the first and second world wars - so named because of their buff-coloured envelopes similar to the colour of a pig's skin.

To mark the 50th anniversary, the refurbished village sign depicting Pulham airships will be reinstated and unveiled by South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, who lives in Pulham. He will be joined by parish councillors and members of the Pennoyers restoration team who are converting the former village school into a centre for the community.

The ceremony will be followed by a display of airship photographs in the village hall where refreshments will be available from 3pm-5pm.

From 1915 until the 1930s, airships from Pulham travelled the world. It has been said that in the early part of its life, the Royal Naval Air Station at Pulham was as famous as Cape Canaveral is today.

However, the former air station has recently become a focus for controversy because of proposals to develop a wind farm on part of the site, opposed by many residents in Pulham St Mary and neighbouring villages.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Diss Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Diss Mercury