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Number 9 Exhauster (635)

Built: 1965
Decommissioned: 1993?

In 1965, 6.5 million pounds was invested building Cell 4, the free-jet cell to end free-jet cells. This supersonic wind tunnel was designed to fly a Concorde power plant (the Rolls Royce Olympus 593) at ground level, sucking air though at Mach 2, simulating the conditions at 61,000 feet.

The heavyweight plant lined up in the Air House was simply not enough. Even with all eight exhausters running, the suction was insufficient. Therefore a ninth exhauster was built as an extension to Cell 4 and housed a multi-stage axial-flow exhauster built by Parsons.

Number 9 Exhauster looking east, from G Road. The extension can be differentiated by its slightly different steel cladding.
05|05|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

As it was essentially an extra set appended to an existing air flow network, Exhauster Number 9 could only be used for Cell 3, Cell 3 West and Cell 4. It was also assigned special duty for Cell 4, being used as suction for the boundary layer bleed flow from the air inlet working section, with the Air House providing the air flow through the rest of the machine.

The turbine hall from the western end, looking east over the Parsons exhauster.
21|04|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

The exhauster was driven by a 6000 horsepower synchronous motor. Starting this was a fairly laborious affair: power was initially taken from the site’s steam turbine in the Power Station and once 3,000 revs/min was reached, the machine was then synchronized with the national grid frequency which then took over.

The Parson's control panel which was in the south-west corner of the control room.
21|04|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

All this took place within an anonymous steel framed cladded shed, which nicely squared off the architectural lines of Cell 4. The Parsons turbine almost filled the entire room with a block built control room situated on the northern side.

Map of Cell 4 and Exhauster Number 9 found on the floor in the test cell.
21|04|07 © Simon Cornwell 2007

Although Cell 4 was mothballed in 1980, Number 9 Exhauster was still required for tests run in Cell 3 and Cell 3 West. It was the last functional part of the building, and presumably closed when all site testing halted in 2002.

Number 9 Exhauster Walkthrough...

The western view of the turbine hall as seen from the northern end of the crane gantry Looking west along the Parsons exhauster The view of the turbine hall from the southeast corner Looking east along the top of the Parsons exahauster The walkway to the north of the turbine hall, which leads to the control room Looing east across the Parsons exhauster from the steps leading to the control room GEC field control cabinet in the north-east corner of the control room Control panel for the Parsons exhauster looking south west across the control room

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