An amazing black and white photograph has surfaced in an online archive showing just how low an infamous ill-fated German airship flew over Barrow - now believed to be on a spying mission.

The LZ 129 Hindenburg was a commercial passenger-carrying airship and was more than three times the length of a Boeing 747, at 804 feet long, and was only 80 feet shorter than the Titanic.

Despite its mighty size, it carried around 50 passengers and 40 crew. It was carrying around 52 people at the time this photo was taken at Duke St on May 22 in 1936.

The iconic image is part of Cumbria Archives after the entire collection and the copyright were passed on by Mrs Joan Sankey. 

The photo was taken just outside Sankey's shop whilst the airship flying west with the Nazi party's Swastika symbols just about visible on the fins. 

Although The Hindenburg was in development before the Third Reich came to power in 1933, members of the Nazi regime viewed it as a symbol of German might.

Manager of the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company, Dr. Hugo Eckener, was no fan of the Nazi party however he made a deal with the Nazis to display the symbols in order to get the ship built however refused to name it after Hitler.

According to Signal film and media, at the time the Hindenburg flew over Furness, Barrovians wouldn't have been aware of the full threat behind its fly-over. 

Many believe this was the first sign of German interest in the town whilst many stood in awe as it flew very low and slowly. 

Both locals and government officials believed it was spying on the shipyard, although its official purpose was cited as carrying passengers on a luxury trip.

The then MP for Barrow-in-Furness, Sir Jonah Walker-Smith, asked questions in the House of Commons as to whether Barrow is or should be scheduled as a prohibited area for foreign aircraft.

The huge aircraft reportedly defied the British government’s 6000ft ‘no fly order’ over Portsmouth Dockyard on another journey over the British Isles in which it also visited three airfields.

The Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937 brought an end to the age of the rigid airship.

The disaster killed 35 people and one member of the ground crew, but miraculously 62 of the 97 passengers and crew survived.

Anyone wanting to use the Sankey photos in a book, online or in an exhibition need to ask permission to use the photos from Cumbria Archives and there may be a charge.

Downloading images for personal use is fine however.  The full details on copyright are here: