Battle Test House (543)
Whilst many of the buildings at Pyestock were designed and built for one function and remained unchanged
during the site’s life, the Battle Test House was probably unique as it was repeatedly extended with
additional facilities. Even its odd nomenclature was giving nothing away, adding to the building’s
The Battle Test House was constructed as the third and last of the buildings clustered around the Fairway
Transformer Park. Its original function was the site’s boiler house. The two original boilers were taken
from HMS Namur, a Battle class destroyer, which was surplus to Admiralty requirements at the time (and
also gave the building its name).
The boilers were made by "J Samuel White" to a three drum 'A' configuration. Their odd shape could be
just be discerned through the wall of glass which made up the south of the building and their huge mass
made the interior of Battle cramped and claustrophobic.
The south facing windows of the Battle Test House
as seen from the Power Station offices.
23|05|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007
As Pyestock gradually expanded, the Battle Test House also grew in size. A few
years after its construction, a third boiler was installed: a five drum marine boiler manufactured by Yarrow.
(This explains the confusion
between reports which state Battle has either two or three boilers).
Historically the superheated steam generated was used to drive the steam turbine in the
Power Station and
provide steam for heating the other buildings scattered around the site. The
Plant House designers considered using steam turbines for their main plant,
thanks to the boiler capacity in Battle, but decided against this
solution due to the large quantity of water required for condensing purposes. However when the
Air House was
constructed, the steam supply from Battle was utilised: not to run the turbines, but simply to give the
compressor/exhauster sets a kick-start.
The western side of Boiler #1 looking south.
21|04|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007
In 1953, the Compressor Test Facility was added to the northern side of the building. It comprised of two test
beds either end of a 14,000 horsepower double ended steam turbine (manufactured by the Brush Electrical
Engineering Company). This test chamber was so important, that the building became temporarily known as
the 14000 HP Turbine Test House, but reverted back to its original name at a later date.
A further extension in 1956 added a Turbine Test Facility to the north west of the building. This single test bed
was fitted with a 25,000 horsepower Heenan and Froude dynamometer to absorb the power from the turbine
under test. Thus with its boiler house, and two testing cells, the Battle Test House eventually became one of
the most diverse buildings on the site.
The south western control room features this lone control panel.
21|04|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007
By the 1990s, the Compressor Test Facility was the final user of the boiler’s steam. (The
Power Station had
switched to a diesel turbine or had closed, the heating of the rest of the site was changed to localised boiler
systems, and the
Air House compressor/exhauster sets were modified to start with electronic pulse equipment).
The old naval boilers were now over fifty years old, and whilst a second-hand bargain in the 1950s,
they became the building’s Achilles heel: a projected maintenance bill of one million pounds meant that the
boiler house of Battle closed in 1993.
The boiler house today shows evidence of its many years of disuse with its rusty boilers and generations of
incumbent pigeons, which is in direct contrast to the building’s offices which remained in use until
Pyestock’s closure. Whilst most equipment is still in-situ, the Turbine Test Facility has been completely
stripped, with most equipment ripped out of the test cell leaving a nasty mess of bent metal and sheered piping.
But whilst Battle Test House doesn’t have the industrial splendour of many of the other buildings, its
cramped and confined interiors gives it a unique feel within Pyestock.
Battle Test House Walkthrough...