Virtual Tour
The Buildings
Urban Exploration
Pyestock Diaries

The Buildings

home | the buildings | admiralty test house (307) | archive picture of staff

When I started my apprenticeship, I lived in Lutterworth, just down Leicester Road from the Power Jets plant so I started at Whetstone. As Whetstone was sold and English Electric moved in, I had the choice of changing over to E.E. or moving to Pyestock and since I only had about 8 months to go, I moved to Pyestock. The apprentices lived at a hostel run by the YMCA, in south Farnborough. It was opposite the old Empire Test Pilots School and across the road from a pub. Can't remember the name but I remember it was a Courage's house. We used to cycle around the perimeter track to get to Pyestock.

I am not in the attached photo so it must have been taken on a Thursday afternoon or a Friday because those were the times I was at the R.A.E. Technical College. Fortunately, I wrote the names of the people on the back so, here goes.

Staff outside the Admiralty Test House.
© Andre Burnage 1954

Back row left to right:
Jack Simpson, Bert Kearse, Tom Jones, John Dell, Ron Forman, Tom Haslum, John Harris, Jim Spencer, Frank Lloyd, Ray Streeter, Ray Cort, 'Tich' Longman.

Front row left to right:
George Mitchell, Bill Jones, Lt. Chapell, Cmdr. Wilson, Capt. H.F. Atkins, Lt. Cmdr. Hegarty, Lt. Morgan, Mrs. Waldock, Maurice Friese-Green

I believe Mrs. Waldock was the secretary for the Naval staff; George Mitchell was the foreman; Jim Spencer, with Tom Jones as his assistant, was the electrician. John Harris was the crane driver. Sometimes, a part of the casing on the turbine had to be lifted up and left suspended for a day or two. At these times, John would lift the casing, lock out the controls on the crane and scoot along the rails with his back to the wall. I do not recall the exit doors near the control room. John would go to the doors at the other end before he could exit the test bay. Later, he passed the qualifications to transfer to the N.G.T.E. Fire Dept.

Another story is of the day that the turbine surged. We had been doing an endurance test, 24 hrs./day for 5 days. A female cleaner was cleaning the offices on the 2nd. floor when the turbine surged, shaking the entire building. Cmdr. Wilson was just entering the building and he swore that lady cleaner never touched a single stair as she flew out of the building! It took us quite a while to find the cause of the surge. A large piece of the wooden measuring section, on the top, in the 3rd. floor air inlet room had dropped straight down.

There was also the time when we were stripping down the turbine and Cmdr. Wilson came running into the test bay. He asked us how long it would take to put it back together, again, because there had been a fire at the Aldershot power station and they might need us to feed the grid as backup. Luckily, they did not need us to run.

Andre Burnage

"Towards the end of my time at Pyestock I spent some time assisting with data collection on the WR21 Naval gas turbine in the ATH. The various references to Micky Mouse were because there was friendly rivalry between the diesel section and the gas turbine section of the Marine Engines Branch and we (the diesel team) decided the WR21 was a Mickey Mouse project and declared the Plant House a Mickey free zone. Here are two pictures of the ATH team and the full Marine Engines team, taken in the ATH control room around 1995."

Staff in the Admiralty Test House control room.
© 1995

Back row left to right:
I only worked with the ATH team for half my time and for a short while and I cannot recall the names of any of the fitters and craftsmen along the back row,
except 5th from the left is Brian Hall who had transferred over from the diesel side.
Middle left-to-right:
Eddie Kirkman, Geoff Ridgway, Tim Smith, Chris Bruce, Chris Whitehouse, ??
Front left-to-right:
Lt ??, Lt Cdr ??, Lt Cdr Mike Wagg, Lt Cdr ?? (but I think they called him Nobby), Lt Chris New.

Staff in the Admiralty Test House control room.
© 1995

Back row left to right:
Geoff Ridgway, Janet Beal, Chris (CJ) Bruce (branch head), Tim Smith, Chris Elliott, Lt Cdr Chris Whitehouse (his last post before retirement was Pyestock and he stayed on for a bit aftewards, which is why he is not in uniform), ATH admin girl whose name I cannot recall, Mike Newman
Front left to right:
Eddie Kirkman, Lt Cdr ??, Lt Cdr Mike Wagg, Lt Chris New, Geoff Timmins

Eddie Kirkman