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Report - Gloster Aircraft Works, Bentham - Sept 2014

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by huey, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Last chance warning-site is scheduled for demolition in the next three weeks...visited solo and on this occasion suitably so-a lovely sunny day and absolute quiet made the trip a bit eerie and a nice chance to soak up the atmosphere one last time.

    THE HISTORY

    Gloucestershire Air Company was formed in 1917,acquiring rival firm HH Martyn in order to build more sub-contracted orders.They started making propellers and smaller items before building main fuselarges at their rented Sunning End works in Cheltenham.By 1918 forty five 'Bristol' aircraft were built each week.As they grew they moved to Brockworth (now the housing estate and Tescos superstore,) but didn't have any hangers built until three years later.
    GAC was split into two divisions,Bentham became the design and development arm.

    And yes its true,in 1926 they changed the name to Gloster Aircraft Works as the yanks had trouble pronouncing it (or speaking correctly at all,same as nowadays...) It had its own very short runway but as technology grew the planes quickly outgrew the works,being designed,developed,built and tested here before being dismantled and trucked down to RAF Moreton-Valance for reassembling.
    For 23 years they kept Britain at the forefront of jet technogoly until a merger with Hawker Siddeley in 1963. They rebranded everything as their own and the once iconic Gloster name quietly disappeared forever.
    The site was used by Bentham International Welding until 1998,since they went bankrupt the site is abandoned except for dozens of portacabins being stored there.



    THE GREAT MAN HIMSELF


    Sir Frank Whittle,inventor of the worlds first jet engine,was the son of a mechanic.Born in 1907 (Frank,not his dad,) he failed to get into the RAF twice because of his height,but once in rapidly worked his way up gaining his pilots license in 1928.He actually thought of the jet idea in the early 30's and made his very first prototype in a Cheltenham garage in 1936 but had no cash to develop it.The usual politics got in the way with the Air Ministry wanting nothing to do with it until Frank had patented it-they then did a U-turn and backed him,financing development.Finally in 1941 the revised jet engine was passed fit and on 15th May the worlds first jet aircraft flew.

    Sir Frank Whittle 1907-1996,wish I could've shaken his hand.

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    Interesting wartime shot of the site-this censored RAF pic was released to Ordnance Survey knowing full well the Germans would try and use it.Parts were airbrushed out making it look like the site prior to the war (less hangers,buildings etc) therefore matching existing pictures.
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    A nice shot of Sir Frank (centre) and the first working prototype running in a test cell at Bentham
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    Today,the sheer scale of the hangers still makes me smile
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    Some nice finds still exist..
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    Hand painted sign
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    Graffiti 1962 style
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    The most important part of any factory..
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    Strange how some parts are like new and others completely wrecked
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    The part I wanted to get in the most,the managers block has been completely gutted by fire and is boarded up properly-right in front of the security hut too.Shame.
    [​IMG]

    The last remaining survivor of the Bentham team,Joe Tedaldi lives locally. He is now 100 years old and remembers well being sworn to silence and signing the official secrets act.He was an airframe fitter at a camouflaged Cheltenham factory in 1940 when asked to join the project.He worked on Gloster 28's and 39's and a prototype of the new Meteor.
    He recalls " There was a barrage balloon site on Coopers Hill and numerous smoke pots obviously intended to put a smoke screen over the place in the event of an attack.Just below Fiddlers Elbow was an Anti-Aircraft gun sited on top of a little hillock. Many people from Stroud worked there,a fleet of buses would depart three times a day from outside the Post Office.I remember going with my cousin to Robinswood hill to see wreckage of a Hurricane that had crashed-it had taken off from Brockworth.It was a great place to work,it had a great sense of camaraderie. "

    I couldn't bring myself to invite Joe along,i think it would break his heart.Usually whilst exploring im thinking of the next shot or what might be around the corner but here wasn't like that.How can a factory way ahead of its time,with world records,forward thinking staff and a such a rich recent history just slip away? Meanwhile the factory patiently awaits its fate and presumably Sir Frank is spinning in his grave.
    Go,soak up the atmosphere and enjoy. Be quick before its another bloody housing estate
     
    #1 huey, Sep 30, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014

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  2. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Re: Gloster Aircraft Works,Bentham,Sept 2014

    Very good, if you could just space some of them pics out it will be a bit easier on the eye :thumb
     
  3. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Re: Gloster Aircraft Works,Bentham,Sept 2014

    OK see what youre saying,give me a minute,thanks and glad you liked!
     
  4. lucan

    lucan 28DL Full Member
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    great stuff , nice shots, there goes another bit of our aviation past , no doubt more eurobox houses to follow
     
  5. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    Not been here for years, and surprised it lasted this long to be honest

    I stayed at the Brockworth Premier Inn last year, and there was still some evidence of the airfield, but none of the buildings. Tesco & Premier inn take up a very small part of the site.
     
  6. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    If only! UK housing tends to be smaller than our European neighbours.. Yes I know we need more housing but it seems to be all in the wrong places, and its easer to get planning permission on a 'brown field' site (read previously developed land)
     
  7. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Great report and history. Loving the awesome space inside the hanger, good job!
     
  8. TheTimeChamber

    TheTimeChamber The other one
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  9. PCWOX

    PCWOX 28DL Regular User
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    Nice one :thumb Any issues with "intruder paint", which I discovered when visiting here? :)
     
  10. mw0sec

    mw0sec 28DL Full Member
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    For those lovers of old hangars, the rusty ones at the old aircraft factory at Beaumaris (Anglesey)are worth a poke about in if anyone is in the area.
     
  11. Session9

    Session9 A life backwards
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    That's really nice - good stuff.
     
  12. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    PCBOX: no mate,no sign anywhere of the dreaded stuff...
     
  13. A man called Martyn

    A man called Martyn cultural theorist
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    Nice. never being here myself. Did spend some time around Brockworth, before it disappeared. It did have a rather gorgeous control tower and a few nice examples of Belfast truss hangers.
     
  14. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Glad you enjoyed it,couldnt find pic of the control tower anywhere,would be interesting. Other places have turned the tower into living accommodation..
     
  15. TheTimeChamber

    TheTimeChamber The other one
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    Big open spaces, I like it.
     
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