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Eastcotts parish within Bedford
Eastcotts is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
Population4,004 (2016 Census including Harrowden and Shortstown)[1]
OS grid referenceTL083344
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBEDFORD
Postcode districtMK42
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°05′51″N 0°25′05″W / 52.097597°N 0.418091°W / 52.097597; -0.418091Coordinates: 52°05′51″N 0°25′05″W / 52.097597°N 0.418091°W / 52.097597; -0.418091

Eastcotts is an electoral ward within the Borough of Bedford. It was formerly also a civil parish until its abolishment on 1 April 2019, when Cotton End and Shortstown parishes were established.[2][3]

The boundaries of Eastcotts are approximately Exeter Wood to the east, Bedfordshire Greensand Ridge to the south and Shocott Spring to the west. There are two woodlands; Shocott Spring and Exeter Wood, two villages; Shortstown and Cotton End and two hamlets; Harrowden and Herrings Green. And some landmarks such as the Cardington Sheds.


The Cardington Hangars

Eastcotts Castle a small motte castle constructed of timber was built during the 11th or 12th centuries. Located on the Bedfordshire Greensand Ridge, it overlooked the parish to the north.[4]

In 1831 Eastcotts was described as a chapelry in the parish of Cardington, in the hundred of Wixamtree, 3+12 miles south-east of Bedford.[5]

In 1915 Short Brothers bought land in the parish to build airships for the Admiralty and constructed a 700-foot-long (210 m) airship hangar to build the two R31 class airships. They also built a housing estate for workers which they named Shortstown. The site was nationalized in 1919 and became known as the Royal Airship Works. The shed was extended in 1926 and its roof was raised to accommodate the R101. A second shed was moved here from RNAS Pulham, Norfolk, in 1928, but after the crash of the R101 in 1930, all work stopped in Britain on airships and the site became a storage station. It became known as RAF Cardington in 1936 and started building barrage balloons and became the No 1 RAF Balloon Training Unit. The site has since been used for a variety of other purposes by a number of organizations including the Royal Aircraft Establishment, the Building Research Establishment, the Meteorological Research Unit, Airship Industries and Hybrid Air Vehicles. The sheds are both listed buildings,[6][7] but Hangar Number 1 is at risk, needing complete repair and refurbishment.[8]


As a result of the building of Shortstown, the population of Eastcotts rose from 848 in 1911 to 2,065 by 1921.[9]

With the ending of National Service and cuts in the armed forces the RAF’s presence at Cardington began to dwindle and largely disappeared in the 1970s. As a result, the population of Eastcotts declined from 3,675 in 1951 to 1,710 in 1981.[10]

The majority of the population of the parish, which was 4,004 in 2016,[11] lives in Shortstown in the northern part of the parish, which was built-in in the early 20th century to house workers from the Cardington airship works.

The population of the ward is expected to rise substantially in the near future, as planning permission for the development of 1,100 homes on the new site built in 2011 named New Cardington. 42 hectares (100 acres) site of the former RAF camp in Shortstown was granted in November 2005.[12]

Population table[edit]

Year Eastcotts Shortstown Cotton End
1911 848 - -
1921 2,065 - -
1951 3,675 - -
1981 1,710 - -
2001 2,431 1,745 686
2011 3,239 2,401 838
2016 4,004 2,392 1,612

Community facilities[edit]

Eastcott's open spaces include Shortstown Playing Field near Southcote, Shocott Spring between Cotton End and Shortstown and Exeter Wood which is south-east of the parish.


A boarding school was established as a result of the Elementary Education Act 1870. The school was built in 1874, at a cost of £1,174, for 140 children with a schoolmaster’s house attached.

A primary school was built in Shortstown around 1957, which was then demolished in 2012 to create a new primary school, located in New Cardington, that was completed in September 2013.

There is currently two schools in Eastcotts. One in Shortstown, and another in Cotton End.


  1. ^ "Civil Parish pop 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  2. ^ "The Borough of Bedford (Reorganisation of Community Governance) Order 2019" (PDF). Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Details of agenda item Reports of the General Purposes Committee. Meeting of Full Council on Wednesday, 28th March, 2018, 6.30 pm". www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Motte castle in Exeter Wood, 780m south east of Wood Farm (1018381)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1831). A topographical dictionary of England. S. Lewis & Company. pp. 104. eastcotts.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Cardington Number 1 Shed at RAF Cardington (1114165)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Cardington Number 2 SHED AT RAF Cardington (1136810)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  8. ^ "English Heritage - Heritage at risk register (website accessed: 28 July 2010)". Archived from the original on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  9. ^ "The Development of Shortstown". bedsarchives.bedford.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  10. ^ "The Development of Shortstown". bedsarchives.bedford.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  11. ^ "United Kingdom: East of England (Local Authority Districts and Parishes) - Population Statistics, Charts and Map".
  12. ^ Land at and adjacent to the former RAF site at Shortstown – statement of circa November 2005 from Bedford Borough Council, with link to full planning brief prepared in January 2003.

External links[edit]