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Report - British aircraft corporation - weybridge surrey 1988

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by soylent green, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. soylent green

    soylent green 28DL Regular User
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    I suppose this should be classed as my first explore, i had done my apprenticeship here as an Aircraft woodworker! In 1987 the factory closed and i moved into F1! Sometime in 1988 i went back to check out how the factory looked, if i had known then what i know now i would have spent a lot longer looking around! The factory was huge and i only took a few pics of my department and the main hanger! The factory was build within the Brooklands race circuit and unlike the factory, a lot of Brooklands still remains! Still a lot of good bits to explore there:) The pictures aren't that great but it gives you some idea of what it was like

    A bit of history

    In World War II, the site was again used for military aircraft production, in particular the Vickers Wellington, Vickers Warwick and Hawker Hurricane and was extensively camouflaged. Trees were also planted in some sections of the concrete Track to help conceal the Hawker and Vickers aircraft factories there. Despite these efforts, the Vickers factory was successfully bombed by the Luftwaffe and extensively damaged on 4 September 1940 with nearly 90 aircraft workers killed and at least 419 injured. The Hawker factory premises were also bombed and damaged two days later, but with no loss of life or serious disruption to Hurricane production. On 21 September 1940, Lt John MacMillan Stevenson Patton of the Royal Canadian Engineers risked his life when he and five others manhandled an unexploded German bomb away from the Hawker aircraft factory at Brooklands and rolled it into an existing bomb crater where it later exploded harmlessly - his bravery was subsequently recognised by the award of the George Cross. The crucial role of Brooklands in the Battle of Britain of 1940 is now explained in an exhibition at Brooklands Museum.



    Vickers factory at Brooklands.
    After the bombing of Brooklands in September 1940, the Vickers-Armstrongs Design Department with Rex Pierson, Barnes Wallis and several hundred other staff was dispersed to a secret location at the nearby Burhill Golf Course, just East of St George's Hill in Hersham and the Experimental Department led by George Edwards was relocated to temporary premises at Foxwarren in Redhill Road, Cobham. These two facilities played a crucial part in the successful development of the 'Upkeep' mine - better known today as the 'bouncing bomb' conceived by Barnes Wallis and deployed to such devastating effect by the 'Dambuster' Avro Lancasters of 617 Squadron, RAF, led by Guy Gibson against Germany's Ruhr Valley reservoirs on the night of 16-17 May 1943.

    After the war, the circuit was in poor condition and it was sold to Vickers-Armstrongs in 1946 for continued use as an aircraft factory. New aircraft types including the Viking, Valetta, Varsity, Viscount, Vanguard and VC10 were subsequently, designed, manufactured and delivered from there.

    In 1951, construction of a new hard runway required a section of the motor circuit's famous Byfleet Banking to be removed to allow Vickers Valiant V bombers to be flown out to nearby Wisley aerodrome which offered a longer runway and less built-up surroundings than Brooklands. This airfield opened as a flight test centre for Vickers in 1944 and used until 1972 (latterly by the BAC).

    After considerable expansion with increasing commercial success in the 1950s, the Vickers factory expanded to its peak size in the early 1960s in preparation for the VC10 manufacturing programme and became a major part of the new British Aircraft Corporation in 1960. Substantial investment in the site at this time saw many new buildings constructed and also existing premises modified. First, in the mid-1950s, came a new assembly hall for the Vickers Viscount known as 'B.1' (presumably as it consisted of a number of standard war-time B.1 type hangars re-used (together with some T.2 hangars too) and rebuilt as one long double bay structure parallel to the runway. A large new 60,378 sq ft VC10 flight shed hangar was ready to house the prototype VC10 airliner by 1962 and a second even larger (98,989 sq ft) flight shed was added alongside this by 1964. The latter was probably the largest aircraft hangar in Europe at the time and became known locally as 'The Cathedral' hangar while the smaller shed was called 'The Abbey'. The huge factory at Brooklands went on to design and build the BAC TSR.2, One-Eleven and major assemblies for Concorde. Unfortunately, the Labour government's cancellation of TSR-2 in 1965 and the disappointing lack of significant orders for VC10s and Concorde saw the factory contract from the early 1970s; it became part of the newly-formed British Aerospace in 1977 and finally closed in 1988-89, although BAE Systems still retain a logistics centre there today.

    Some pics

    This is the site map! I worked in the building marked Aircraft laboratories and the main hanger is VC 10 WING ASSY

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    My department before closure
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    Main hanger in its heyday
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    And after closure
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    The back of the main hanger
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    After closure
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    Thanks for looking:thumb
     
    #1 soylent green, Jun 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013

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