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Cell 3 (630): Then And Now

As gas turbines grew in size and power, Cells 1 & 2 were found to be too small, and too lacking in testing facilities, to deal with these new power plants. Therefore Cell 3 was conceived as a solution.

With its supersonic air flows generated by the plant in the Air House, Cell 3 was also equipped with both icing facilities, heated and dry air supplies. Each of these necessitated extra plant positioned within the vicinity of the cell.

It was not the most photogenic of cells, being mostly sunken in a trench. This reduced the noise levels, so a silenced exhaust was not required either (exhaust gases were taken up by the suction mains and exhausted via the Air House stacks). But its hidden nature meant that the few archival pictures to surface are just of the test cell itself.

The original photographer stood right on the lip of the open roof of the Cell 3 test cell to get this shot of a Concorde Olympus 593 gas turbine. Note the array of bolts along the cut section of the cellís top which allowed the roof section to be bolted in place.

The view in 2007 is confusingly different with all sorts of weird attachments (doors, pulleys, painted sections) added to the interior of the cell. These were added by set dressers for the film Sahara. These additions are extremely flimsy and one canít stand on the edge of the cell (like the original photographer) without falling through the meagre plywood faÁades.

Note the curved roof section of the cell can be seen further back in the building, top left.

Concorde Olympus 593 mounted in simulated altitude nacelle in Cell 3

A slightly shallower angle looking east across the Cell 3 altitude cell.
24|04|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

The original photographer ventured deep within the bowels of Cell 3 to photograph a worker inspecting the enormous gas cooler assembly mid-way down the cellís body. The man gives an excellent idea of the size of this structure.

My shot was taken further back whilst stood in the water cooled diffuser section. The inhibition torches can be seen protruding from the sides of the walls before the pipe widens out into the exhauster cooler itself. The large coiled pipe seen in the original photograph has gone.

Cell 3 gas cooler

Same shot but taken further back.
05|05|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

The original photographer was standing on the first floor of the Computer Building when he took this shot of the towering Cell 3 Air Heater.

Unfortunately, this monstrous structure has long gone, but thereís still plenty of evidence to show where it was. The raised concrete base and metal ladder to the control room are still in-situ, as are the sunken trenches for fuel tanks and piping.

Cell 3 air heater

Looking over the same area, but looking north west instead of west.
05|05|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

This shot shows an engineer positioning a gas turbine into Cell 3 for testing. The photographer was perched on the roof of the cell itself shooting west across the cell and capturing the back wall.

I was in a similar position and shooting in the same direction, but I was positioned on the ground floor above where the original photograph was taken. All the studs holding the cell's curved roof section appear to have gone; plus the Sahara set-dressers have added doors to the exhaust port of the cell. The only way to match the shots was to compare the curved white section at the end of the open cell section.

Positioning a gas turbine into Cell 3

A shot taken higher up looking over the cell.
05|05|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

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