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Report - Gloster Aircraft Company, Bentham Works - July 2010

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by clebby, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
    Regular User

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    Gloster Aircraft Company, Bentham Works

    I've spent many hours poring over the internet looking for new local sites to explore. So imagine my surprise when a local emailed me asking if I had explored the old GAC factory over at Bentham.

    "Eh?" I said. So he attached some externals.

    :eek:

    Massive factoooory! This place is barely two miles from my house, I pass within 500m of it every day on the bus, and I had absolutely no idea it even existed. I'm sure you've noticed I have put an email address in my signature, waiting for the day when someone would email me a great lead. Well, it finally paid off!

    The site may not appear particuarly exciting at first, but it is steeped in history. It was not used to mass produce aircraft; instead it was used to build and test prototypes. (Mass production took place at the companies nearby Hucclecote factory). Many famous planes have their origins at the Bentham Works, including the Meteor, the only Allied jet aircraft to see combat in WW2 which had it's first ground run at the site on June 29th, 1942.

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    The prototypes for the Gloster Javelin, an "all weather interceptor aircraft", were not only built at the Bentham Works but also designed here too. The prototypes would then be taken by road to the companies aerodrome at Moreton Valence for testing. The Javelin was used by the RAF throughout the 50s and much of the 60s, and proved to be a very successful aircraft.

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    I cannot find an exact date for the building but my guess would be 1940, as in February 1940 GAC was selected to design the aircraft to be powered by the W.1 Engine; the E.28/39, the very first Frank Whittle based jet aircraft (yes, Frank Whittle was the man behind Pyestock). The aircraft was also known as the Pioneer, as it was the very first British jet engined aircraft to fly; again showing how important this site is in British aviation history.

    GAC wound up in 1963 however, and since then the site has been used by Wilmot Breeden and later welding firm Bentham International. BI specialised in pipework, particuarly for the petro-chemical industry. The site also once housed the largest brake press in Europe. The site appears to have been vacated around 1998/2000.

    I've visited several times now, with Kempes and Da-Mop. I'm surprised no one else has posted this site before, it's not bad at all. This is the largest building on site, this shot taken from the office block. It is very typical of it's age, and reminded me a lot of the large white building at Stoke Orchard CRE.

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    Inside, it is a huge space, and although it's very empty, the incredible (prepare for a cheesy line) lighting, atmosphere and decay makes up for it.

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    This shot was taken at sunset on my first visit. The lighting in this place really is some of the best I have ever seen - this is as it was shot.

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    Loads of ancient posters relating to the huge machinery that would have once stood in this room:

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    Upstairs, off this factory floor were some offices; stripped, but with some tasty decay.

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    The site is full of original features such as doors, complete with their original hand-painted signs:

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    At the back of this building was the pipe X-Ray department. To ensure equal thickness in the pipe, a source of beta radiation was placed on one side, and a geiger counter on the other. Different ammounts of the beta particles would get through the pipe depending on the thickness, so you'd know if the thickness was uneven if the readings were not constant.

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    Loads of cool signs associated with the radiation:

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    There were also a few labs, prep rooms and darkrooms in this area, again to do with the X-Ray:

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    There are other factory floors on site, however the design and construction of them were very different from the main factory, ranging from long and thin:

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    To this very wide, open space with some amazing lighting:

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    Obligatory switchgear shot:

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    This building also housed the factory stores:

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    Including the stores for the X-Ray department:

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    More pictures below.

     
    #1 clebby, Jul 28, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010

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  2. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
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    Again, the office block was stripped but this almost added to the atmosphere, and the lighting in here is really stunning.

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    In October 2008, a fire upstairs caused minor damage but I imagine this is the reason there is security on-site. The security hut is situated perfectly to make creeping around without being seen very very difficult. :rolleyes:

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    Although the fire was only small, it clearly generated a fuck load of heat. This *used* to be a toilet cistern, in a room the fire did not even reach!

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    And what works would be complete without a wood panelled directors office ?

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    This was probably my favourite room in the office block. Now that is what we call a safe!

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    More original features:

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    We also found two twats in the ladies toilets for some reason.

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    :gay

     
    #2 clebby, Jul 28, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
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