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Report - GAC Meteor Factory - Bentham - April/May 2016

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by latentux, May 10, 2016.

  1. latentux

    latentux 28DL Full Member
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    This factory site is worth a seeing as it has the distinction of being the place where Britains jet aircraft industry was developed during the early 1940s, and was the birthplace of the RAFs first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor.

    I made two visits, one solo at the end of April, and the next with a non member in the beginning of May. During our second visit we had a mixture of heavy rain and bright sunshine. It was amazingly noisy in the hangers while it rained.

    There are four large hangers, an office block with a large built-in safe (still locked), a small gatehouse, and a securely locked small building which looks like it's used by security. There's always a Union Jack flying, a generator running, and lights on - at least there was for these visits and when I went there in 2013.

    Three of the hangers incorporate an assortment of workshops, offices, or stores, but there is not much left by way of equipment or machinery. The fourth hanger is pretty wrecked and one side is almost completely open.

    Vegetation is spreading all around the site and it seems that there is no intention for further use of any of the buildings. It takes a while to see it all and it's still worth a visit I think.

    We were able to have a good wander around without interruption. Either security wasn't there, or we were just lucky.

    The site has been well covered on here before and I found myself duplicating many of the pictures posted by others, so I've used black and white for most of the shots.

    There is good history in several reports on here, and on other sites, so I'm keeping my history brief and hoping I haven't got anything wrong.




    During World War Two in 1941/2 the Gloster Aircraft Company transferred their design and experimental staff to this purpose-built facility at Bentham, 3 miles from their main site at Brockworth. It was located at the bottom of Crickley Hill to make it a difficult target for Luftwaffe bombers, and was camouflaged to make it appear as a small village from the air. Bentham church next to the site would have helped to make this more convincing.

    Glosters chief designer, George Carter, was responsible for designing the airframe for the first British jet powered plane the E28/39 which was powered by Sir Frank Whittles's pioneering jet engine. Its first official flight was on the 15th May 1941 at RAF Cranewll, but it had actually left the ground during taxing trials at Glosters Brockworth airfield on the 8th of April 1941.

    In 1943 the Bentham unit subsequently undertook the refinement of the design and development of prototype Gloster Aircraft jet planes including the Gloster Meteor which was also designed by Carter. It was notable as the only jet plane to be used in service by the Allies during World War 2. Prototypes were assembled at Bentham, and transferred by road to the nearby airfield at RAF Moreton Valence for flight testing. Meteors entered service with RAF 616 Squadron on the 12th July 1944, and were used to intercept and bring down the German V1 flying bombs which were targeted at London. Meteors later saw action in the Korean War and were eventually used by the air forces of 12 nations. Some were still being used by the RAF in the 1980s as target tugs.

    GAC Bentham was also responsible for development of the less successfull Gloster Ace, and later the last Gloster military aircraft, the Gloster Javelin. The Javelin first flew in 1951 and was used by the RAF until the late 1960's

    The GAC eventually merged with Armstrong Whitworth and Hawker Siddley Aviation. Designers at Bentham were working on the "Thin-Wing Javelin P376" project when it closed in 1963.The site was then occupied by other companies until about 1998 and it has been vacant since.



    On with the pictures.


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    There is plenty of rust, texture, and colour at the site and also ' Reject' the Bentham "snow angel".


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    Thanks for looking.
     

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  2. WhoDaresWins

    WhoDaresWins Let's do this
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    A good place this actually. Been meaning to go back as we missed a few bits after avoiding secca patrolling around.
     
  3. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
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    Great report and nice pics :thumb
     
  4. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    Nice report and pics! Like the B&W actually, something different! Great history and I wonder what is in the safe? :)
     
  5. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
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    Not much machinery left but a lovely and peaceful place nonetheless. Some great shots.
     
  6. Freddie Valentine

    Freddie Valentine 28DL Full Member
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    Cracking shots buddy!
     
  7. The Amateur Wanderer

    The Amateur Wanderer 28DL Regular User
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    Suppose I'd ought to see this been a bit of an aviation nut.

    Really nice photos, especially of the hangars.
     
  8. julesmctrainspotter

    julesmctrainspotter 28DL Full Member
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    Superb photos, many thanks!
     
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