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Pyestock Diaries


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Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) founded.


Dr W J Stern, of the Air Ministry Research Laboratoties states that "the gas turbine has no forseeable future."


Alan Arnold Griffith of the RAE develops an aerodynamic theory of turbine design. His work is given a high security classification and is presented to the Aeronautical Research Committee. He gains support to perform experiments to test his theories.


Two test programs are started at the RAE. A small wind tunnel is constructed which allows the study of the flow of air over compressor and turbine blades; the other experiment concerns turbo compressors.

Frank Whittle begins his studies at RAF Cranwell.


Grittith is convinced that "the turbine is superior to existing service engines." The Aeronautical Research Committee disagree, feeling the financial risk is too great. Small scale testing continues with a rig to explore contra flow designs.

Whittle files a patent application "Inprovements relating to the propulsion of aircraft and other vehicles" (which is eventually granted in 1932). He also applies for a job at the Air Ministry but is turned down.


All complete gas turbine research at the RAE stalls. Hayne Constant joins Grittith's team, and they start work on researching component parts.


Whittle forms Power Jets Limited to exploit his patent. British Thomson-Houston (BTH) are selected as a manufacturing partner.


Power Jets Limited (along with BTH) give the world's first successful demonstration of a gas turbine jet propulsion engine.

After Whittle's successful demonstration, the Air Ministry instructs the RAE (under the advice from the previously doubtful Aeronautical Research Committee) to start work on a gas turbine engine. Metropolitan Vickers selected as a manafacturing partner as they have previously experience working with gas turbines (and a dislike of BTH).


Griffith leaves the RAE to join Rolls-Royce.
Metropolitan Vickers builds and tests "Betty".
Other potential manufacturers are selected e.g. Parsons, Fraser and Chamlers (later part of the GEC) and Armstong Siddley.

The RAE also approach Power Jets to make the "F1". Power Jets are too busy so the project is taken on by Metropolitan Vickers.


A bomb falls on the RAE and destroys various test-rigs and prototype gas turbines.


Despite the war damage set-backs, the RAE continue to expand their gas turbine programme and need more test facilities. Therefore permission is granted for a purpose-built gas turbine research station at Pyestock.

Power Jets Limited also continue to expand at Whetstone, Leicestershire and begin engine component manufacture.


The first occupants move into Pyestock (which becomes eventually known as "the old site"). This Turbine Division of the RAE and Power Jets Limited are now the leading companies in gas turbine technology.

Whittle refuses a merger of Power Jets Limited with Rolls-Royce, preferring a nationalised solution.


The government consider it essential to have an experimental gas turbine research establishment of its own. Therefore it nationalises both Power Jets Limited and the RAE Turbine Division under the Power Jets (R&D) Limited moniker.


Whittle resigns, as his original intention to provide jet engines for the RAF now unworkable. Most senior technical staff from the former Power Jets Limited facility at Whetstone also leave.

The government feel the newly formed company is not meeting its objectives. The company is then brought into the civil service and named The National Gas Turbine Establishment.


Roxbee Cox starts a centralisation plan which involves the creation of one new site by moving the existing test facilities from Whetstone to Pyestock. It will be built on 48 hectares to the north of the existing Pyestock site on land previously used by the Bramshot Golf Course.


The first buildings are completed at the new site.


Whetstone ceases to be part of the The National Gas Turbine Establishment as key staff, equipment and facilities finish the move from Whetstone to the new Pyestock site. (The Whetstone site then continues as part of English Electric before being merged into the GEC).


Cell 1 & 2 completed.


Cell 3 completed.


Cell 4 completed.


Cell 3 West completed.


The Anechoic Chamber is the last large scale construction to be built on the new site.


Pyestock is now at its largest extent. It's the largest such test facility in Europe, the world leader in research, and employs 1600 people.


Reorganisations, and the advent of new testing technology (including the increased use of computer simulations), see the decommissioning of large parts of the Pyestock site.


A new research station for the Turbine Division of the RAE is built at Pyestock near the now demolished old site.


QinetiQ sell the largely disused site to Astral Developments but retain the Anechoic Chamber, the newly built Sigma Aerospace Test Facility and the Fuels & Lubricants Laboritory. Astral Developments announce their plans to build Hartland Park on the former Pyestock site. This will involve the demolition of the former gas turbine testing establishment and its replacement by a Mega Depot for Tescos. Local opposition to the plan starts.


MoLAS conclude a major programme of building recording and research at Pyestock. Working with Astral Developments, the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) and Hampshire County Council they ensure that not only an appropriate record is made, but that archive material from the site is secured for the future.


Pyestock targetted by urban explorers.


Ian Mckenzie publishes "Pyestock from RAE to QinetiQ".


The Secretary of State waives all objections and approves the building of a Mega Depot for Tescos. Local opposition continues with SPLAT lodging a legal challenge in the High Court.