Airships Again

  • Mary Stopes-Roe
Part of the Macmillan Science book series (MACSCI)


Commander Dennistoun Burney, a dynamic figure, an inventor and an engineer, was causing a commotion in Barnes’s life. In 1922 and early 1923 he was pressing for financial support for an ambitious project to construct a system of airship ‘Liners’ which would link the far-flung parts of the Empire. The proposed ‘Trans-Oceanic Airship Liners’ would fulfil the function of ocean-going liners at a much greater speed, with benefit to the Empire. Government had blown hot and cold on support for the airship industry, as Barnes knew to his cost. Socialists would not favour assisting private industry; Liberals would oppose any action which could be construed as leading towards a policy on armaments. Action required someone who could reach the ear of those in power. Commander Burney had political influence, self-assurance and money, all of them advantages which Barnes lacked. While Burney’s indulgent life-style did not accord with Barnes’s ascetic attitudes, the two shared an intense belief in the importance of the Empire to Britain itself, to the Dominions and Colonies, and to the world in general. The opinion that the excellence of Western culture, ethics, political and legal systems benefited all who participated therein was widely held at the time; and the two men shared a determination to develop speedy and efficient communications between every part of the Empire upon which the sun still never set. Airships had a greater carrying capacity and could remain airborne for longer than heavier-than-air craft. Once certain design problems were overcome, airships would bring benefit not only to trade and commerce, but also to the emotional unity of the great family of nations. The reduction of time taken for the mail, and for travelling back and forth, would overcome reluctance to leave Britain and loved ones often felt by those who were needed to work abroad.


Perpendicular Distance Cold Bath Large Basket Emotional Unity Airship Industry 
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© Mary Stopes-Roe 2005

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  • Mary Stopes-Roe

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