Well, I'm probably a bit late in posting this, but I was going through my old shots and thought good old Pyestock was worthy of another report with some of the classic shots. These took a bit of editing, all taken with a basic camera that I didn't really know how to use properly at the time, but I still have fond memories of our visits.
If you don't know what Pyestock was, welcome to the most epic industrial derp of all time! Sadly now completely flattened to make way for a distribution centre, the place became one of those "must visit" places for most explorers for awhile. Enjoy!
NGTE Pyestock - The National Gas Turbine Establishment - was a huge industrial site in Fleet, Hampshire. The site was used to test jet engines during their development, and was expanded over time to accommodate engines such as those used on Concord. The engines could be tested in the giant wind tunnels while the conditions of flight up to 2,000mph at an altitude of 65,000ft could be simulated. To achieve such a feat, the largest wind tunnels ever constructed were needed, and a vast array of additional services including the huge compressors in the Air House, which could be configured to blow air into, or suck air out of the test cells. Each compressor set, of which there were eight, were driven by 36,500hp electric motors.
Originally opening in the 1949 with a number of small test facilities, the site was top secret at first, but that didn't last. I should imagine the noise alone would have generated a lot of interest. Large scale expansion took place throughout the 50s and 60s to facilitate the much larger jet engines being developed such as those used on Concorde. The site finally closed in 2000 due to a decline in jet engine development and the advent of computer aided simulations.
Head on over to the excellent ntge.co.uk for loads more detail - by far the most comprehensive resource ever assembled about Pyestock.
Aerial view of the site before demolition.
Constructed in 1965 at a cost of £6.5 million, Cell 4 was the last large development on the site, and also the most complicated. It was capable of free-jet testing jet engines, whereby a jet engine could be run up to full speed while the conditions of flight were simulated.
The humongous Cell 4 - a supersonic wind tunnel for testing jet engines.
Higher view of cell 4 and its building.
The huge hole is where air would be blown in at supersonic speeds.
Looking the other way, we can see a hole where a huge pipeline would once have entered the building.
Viewed from the other end with spill air pipes either side.
Close-up to Cell 4.
Looking over the other way.
Inside the plenum chamber, where air enters the test cell. This selfie (yeah, the one that everyone got!) demonstrates the size of this thing.
Inhibition torches around the outside would have had nozzles where gas was ignited, like giant flame throwers, to burn off any residual jet fuel before the air recirculates around the system. The lattice of pipes behind is the first-stage cooler for cooling down the hot jet engine exhaust gasses.
View from crane operator's cab.
Built mostly underground within a huge trench, Cell 3 was the first testing cell built after plans in the early 1950s to expand the initial capacity of the site. Constructed at the same time as the Air House, it was designed as a general purpose cell to provide greater capacity than Cell 2 - it could cater for the new larger engines with their improved performance, and could simulate higher altitudes, all within a wider range of engine entry temperatures.
The "supersonic nozzle" of Cell 3.
Looking at the nozzle from where the engine on test would be installed.
These "blast doors" were installed for the filming of the movie Sahara.
Looking back through the blast doors.
Further behind the blast doors we find this other-worldly sight, the stripped out cooler of Cell 3.
The Air House
The Air House was an integral part of the site's expansion to cater for the new breed of supersonic jet engines. It was clear that the new Cell 3 would require more high pressure air or more suction capability than the Plant House could provide and so the Air House was constructed. It performed one function: to generate right atmospheric conditions to fly a supersonic jet engine on the ground.
Looking across the motors and compressors in the Air House.
The compressors were responsible for moving air through the test cells at up to 2000mph.
One of the 8 GECcompressor/exhauster sets.
Panels in the Air House control room.
The huge pipelines that connected the Air House to the Cells 3 and 4.
Built in 1954, the plant house contained all the equipment necessary to run the original two test cells at Pyestock - Cells 1 and 2. Its job was very similar to that of the Air House, but on a much smaller scale.
Parsons compressor in the Plant House.
End view of the Parsons compressor.
Local control panel.
Plant House control room.
Exhausters 9 and 10
With the advent of even larger jet engines, such as those used on Concorde, more suction through the test cells was required. Exhauster 9 (in addition to the 8 existing compressor/exhauster sets in the Air House) was built adjacent to Cell 3, and later Exhauster 10 was built for exclusive use by Cell 4.
Exhauster No. 9.
The much newer Exhauster No. 10.
Cells 1 and 2
The original two full scale test cells at Pyestock, Cells 1 and 2 were constructed in 1957 as a way to test jet engines on the ground while they were fully fired up and running - essentially two large tubes with an exhaust duct and silencer.
Selfie in Cell 2.
Inside Cell 1.
Inside the exhauster stack of Cells 1 and 2
I make no apologies for all the selfies