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Capel (Folkestone)


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The term 'blimp' for a non-rigid airship is frequently claimed to have originated at Capel. Commander of the station Lieutenant A.D. Cunningham during December 1915 was said to have flipped his thumb on the tight fabric envelope of the SS-12 airship, which created an unusual noise to lead him to exclaim the word. However, Horace Short of Short Brothers fame is also said by some to have invented this new expression at Kingsnorth the previous February.



Also known as: Blue Channel Caravan Park / Capel-le-Ferne / RAF Capel / RNAS Capel / RAF Folkestone / White Cliffs Caravan Park / White Cliffs Parks
County: Kent
Current Status: Farmland / Leisure activity
Date: 8 May 1915 (inhabited by early March 1915) - 1920 (more precise closing date variously quoted as either January, August or September); alleged minor civil use circa August 1914
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF (main user) / RNAS (main user) / Civil (minor)
Landing Surface Types: Unpaved
Aircraft Roles: Maritime patrol (main role) / General aviation (minor use)

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/07/2013):

  • Abbots Cliff House - holiday accommodation, used by officers during World War One, also by Government Code & Cypher School when airfield employed as a wireless monitoring station in World War Two
  • Capel-le-Ferne Parish Council
  • Folkestone & District Local History Society
  • Folkestone Library
  • Folkestone Town Council
  • The Royal Oak - public house on south-east edge of airfield
  • St. Mary's Church, Capel-le-Ferne - one RNAS grave

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • East Kent Road Car Company - bus operator, succeeded South Coast Omnibus Company
  • Martin Walter Ltd - car body builder, last user of remaining airship shed
  • Silver Queen Omnibus Company - named after the resident airships
  • South Coast Omnibus Company - succeeded Silver Queen Omnibus Company, vehicles parked overnight in last remaining airship shed

The following alternative information/mass media sources have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 31/01/2020):

  • The Dover Historian

Video and photographs of ABCT's Capel (Folkestone) Airfield memorial unveiling, Friday 17 March 2023. Courtesy of Ed Andrews



Airship Sub-Station(s):

Godmersham Park

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