Home   News   Article

R34 centenary celebrations - what's going on, and where, this weekend




Walk the length of two football pitches and you will know why it took a ground crew of hundreds to haul in an airship.

The R34 was 643 feet long – and 100 years ago it arrived at the Pulham St Mary airship station at the end of an epic double Atlantic crossing.

The R34: Image: Pennoyer Centre
The R34: Image: Pennoyer Centre

Giant land art, a tank, augmented reality, talks, exhibitions, pipers, a blimp and a musical are just some of the treats lined up, as this moment in time is celebrated in Pulham St Mary and Diss.

In Pulham St Mary

There will be two days of celebrations to mark the R34's place in aviation history. A centre piece includes an example of land art – a full-sized outline of the R34 marked out on the South Green playing field, showing just how huge it was.

People will be able to walk around, find out information about what went on, where, and marvel at the sheer size of the airship.

People will be able to walk around an outline of the airship in Pulham St Mary. Picture: Aerial Shoots
People will be able to walk around an outline of the airship in Pulham St Mary. Picture: Aerial Shoots

Sheila Moss King, who will be one of the weekend’s speakers, said: “On July 13, 1919, Pulham became known around the globe – as famous perhaps as Cape Canaveral is today.

“In contrast to Alcock and Brown [aviators who made the first non-stop Atlantic crossing], the R34 airship and her crew of 30 had proved that mass transatlantic travel was not only possible, but imminent.

“As a village, we are incredibly proud of our moment in history and are looking forward to celebrating it this weekend.”

The R34 Airship Centenary Celebrations begin in Pulham St Mary village and The Pennoyer Centre on Saturday.

A new exhibition including previously unseen material from private collections on the R34, and new artefacts linked to RNAS Pulham, will be on view.

R34 going into her shed July 13 1919 at RNAS Pulham. Image: The Pennoyer Centre
R34 going into her shed July 13 1919 at RNAS Pulham. Image: The Pennoyer Centre

Norfolk Tank Museum are bringing along their replica WWI Mark IV tank, identical to that used to tow airships around the air station. The recently discovered WWI linen table cloth, signed by patients, staff and visitors at two military hospitals inwill also be on display.

There will be vintage fete games, vintage and craft stalls, tombola/children's tombola, beer and prosecco, food from Natural Born Grillers, and music. Pennoyer's cafe will be open all day selling cakes, drinks and ice cream.

The refurbished village sign, featuring the R34 and R33 airships, will be unveiled in the afternoon.

Exhibitions and expert talks continue on Sunday for R34 enthusiasts.

In Diss

An R34 blimp will be seen over the town. In the market place from 11.00am, a piper will acknowledge the Scots origins of the voyage.

Period dancers will appear at 11.30, 12.30, 2.00 and 3.00 and give workshops.

There will be memorabilia stalls outside the museum and a children’s treasure hunt. Inside there is an exhibition featuring model, art and tapestry work by local groups.

University of Suffolk students will be there to help visitors view selected events from the R34’s voyage in augmented reality.

Basil Abbott will be in costume. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography
Basil Abbott will be in costume. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography

In the church a further display will feature meteorological material on the voyage supplied by weatherman Jim Bacon. There will also be previously unseen photos, newly colourised images, artwork and books.

Museum manager Basil Abbott said: “The voyage of the R34 was a great aviation feat but is now an almost forgotten piece of local history. Diss Museum is proud to have helped bring the story back to public attention.”

In the evening, at 7.30pm, Peter Creswell’s specially composed musical show All Aboard the R34! will be seen at the Corn Hall.

Peter Creswell (13736156)
Peter Creswell (13736156)

On Sunday, at 10.30am there is a special R34 service in St. Mary’s Church will feature slides, film, period hymns and readings in character from the airship log.


More by this author



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More