The first plan was to bury ourselves into the inner parts of the site, away from any prying eyes, and any
potential security patrols along the perimeter road. So, we avoided the first building, plumping for
the second monstrous structure which emerged from the network of pipes, concrete gullies and gantries.
This lead to our small moment of panic when we thought we’d been seen and then the “fun” opening
the door. Once inside, our world changed again.
When entering a building for the first time, there’s always a frisson of excitement, the thrill of
discovery, and the realisation of the totally unexpected. For example, a building’s shape and size
give almost no clues as to its interior layout and contents. So as we struggled with the stiff,
heavy obstinate door, we plunged from the bright hot June day into a darker, quieter, cooler
environment. And as expected, the interior of the building wasn’t as we expected in the slightest.
The building was effectively an iron and glass rectangular shell protecting a huge subterranean pit
which stretched its entire length. A suite of offices, testing labs, equipment and control rooms
were built against one side of this space, whilst a small crane mounted on a gantry occupied the
other side. Peering into the darkened pit revealed a huge pipe, buried in the concrete, and bedecked
with sensors and controls. Beneath the crane, the pipe was open, revealing a test chamber. A hastily
written chalk inscription on a blackboard described its last subject: “Rolls Royce Engine”. There was
no need to say anything else: I took a ladder up and Tom took the steps down.
Interior of Cell 3 looking west.
24|06|06 © Simon Cornwell 2006