The Hampshire town of Farnborough has a long and significant history in the development of aviation technology. With its airport hosting what is now the world’s second-largest airshow, and being the site of the United Kingdom’s first powered flight, Farnborough has many reminders of its role and record in aviation. Perhaps one of the most physically significant, though lesser known, is a series of 60-foot, metal arches overlooking the Farnborough Airport.
Using almost entirely original materials, these arches are a reconstructed British Army portable airship hangar, minus its canvas. As early as the Napoleonic Wars, balloon airships had been used for the purpose of observation by the military. In 1890 the Balloon Section of the British Armed Forces was moved to Farnborough. Initially, permanent sheds were constructed, but in 1912, it was decided that portable hangars were needed to enable the balloons and their gear to be deployed more effectively.
The original hangar, now rebuilt, stood from 1912 until October of 1913 when it was dismantled and divided into two parts. The lower part was used in the fabric workshop of Farnborough’s factory site, while the upper portion was used in the forge and foundry building.