Black and white photo of Airship R.38/ZR 2 preparing for flight. The foreground is flat grassland. The airship sits on the horizon which has a line of dark specks along its entire length. Looking closer, the specks are people, some holding ropes. Hand written text on the bottom edge reads: "R.38. Ready for flight at Howden"
Airship R.38/ZR-2 ready for flight at Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire © D. Howlett
Airship R.38/ZR-2 ready for flight at Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire © D. Howlett

100th Anniversary of Hull Airship Crash Commemorated with New Crowdsourcing Project

Historic England has commissioned a new project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Hull airship crash.

On 24 August 1921, airship R.38/ZR-2 exploded mid-flight and crashed into the River Humber in front of thousands of onlookers in Hull, killing 44 of its 49-strong crew.

Like the Titanic, the R.38/ZR-2 was the most advanced of its kind at the time. It was larger, faster and could fly higher than any of its predecessors. The airship was about to be sold to the US and was only on its fourth test flight when it crashed carrying both British and American personnel. The crash was a personal tragedy for the crew, their families and had huge ramifications for the future of aviation.

Keith Emerick, Inspector of Ancient Monuments Historic England

The new Historic England-funded project, which is led by heritage consultancy Fjordr, will create a virtual collection of materials relating to this striking incident in Hull’s history.

For this reason, Fjordr is asking people to get in touch if they have any family stories, documents, photos or memorabilia relating to the incident.

I first became fascinated with the crash after hearing about it from my grandfather. He witnessed the disaster first hand when he was a young boy living in Hull. We want to hear from people who have been told similar stories by relatives or who might have souvenirs of the crash. We know that a range of objects were made from the wreckage including candlesticks and ashtrays. I can’t wait to see what people come forward with.

Antony Firth, Director Fjordr

Fjordr do not want people to donate objects but rather allow them to be recorded and photographed to help create a comprehensive online collection.

The process of cataloguing the materials is being carried out by volunteers from the Carnegie Heritage Centre in Hull.

If you have stories or photographs you would like to contribute, please get in touch by email ([email protected]) or Facebook (@carnegiehull44).