The first time on a new site is always nerve wracking. You lack all the familiarity,
you’re disorientated, you’re uncertain of what’s around the next corner, and weird
noises tend to cause over anxious responses. Like spending the first night in an old house,
it simply takes a while to get used to the environment. So, it was with high spirits,
and equally high nerves, that Tom and I found ourselves ferreting around the industrial
bulk of the former National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE), which was also known as
Pyestock. It was an internationally renowned turbine development and testing laboratory,
at one time the most advanced and best in the world, a home to both top-secret military
projects and commercial activities. It’s public claim to fame was the development of
Concorde’s engines, but all sorts of other work had taken place in its huge testing
facilities and laboratories.
Now, mostly unused and surplus to requirements, Pyestock’s fate was demolition and replacement
by a supermarket distribution centre. Such a redevelopment was a concrete example of the whole
situation unfolding in the UK: former manufacturing buildings testament to this country’s ability
to make, test and produce things begin demolished and swept away for a bloody supermarket depot,
a knowing wink to the fact that we can now only move things around before consuming them. It
was a piss-poor epitaph for Pyestock. So we were going to see it, and attempt to document it, before
it disappeared forever.
One of our first views of Pyestock. The Air House can be seen in the background,
then Cell 3 and finally Cell 4. Taken from the former ejector seat testing area.
24|06|06 © Simon Cornwell 2006