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Report - National Gas Turbine Establishment Pyestock - September 2011

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by hazard, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. hazard

    hazard 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Three of us set out at silly o'clock to make our entry before dawn in pouring rain, trudging along with camera packs and tripods we infil'd past the numerous minor obstacles and headed straight for our hide out until daylight. We had all packed pasties, and survival rations for an all day recce! We peeled off dripping coats and sat there steaming drinking warm tea from our flasks and telling rude jokes! Slowly daylight arrived grey and dim revealing that YES we were at....

    The National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE Pyestock) in Fleet, part of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), was the prime site in the UK for design and development of gas turbine and jet engines. It was created by merging the design teams of Frank Whittle's Power Jets and the RAE turbine development team run by Hayne Constant. NGTE spent most of its lifetime as a testing and development centre, both for experimental developments and to support commercial engine companies.

    The newly merged venture was nationalised. Pyestock, a former golf course in a secluded wooded spot between Farnborough and Fleet was chosen as the turbine development site, as the activities at the NGTE would be top secret and the surrounding woodland would dampen the noise. Construction began in 1949 with small test "cubicles" inside buildings like the Plant House.

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    When the possibility of supersonic jets arose, the site was expanded to the north west, with the Air House and several large test cells built circa 1961.

    For over 50 years Pyestock was at the forefront of gas turbine development. It was probably the largest site of its kind in the world. V bomber, Harrier and Tornado engines were tested on site. The power of the air house allowed Concorde's engines to be tested at 2,000 mph. Every gas turbine installed in Royal Navy ships was checked here; captured Soviet engines were discreetly examined.

    NGTE Pyestock closed down in 2000 and decommissioned to make way for a business park, however ongoing protests are still delaying any definite move to destroy this unique site.


    The first building built in 1949 was the plant house a smaller version of the later built test cells. This area was built for prepping and repairing the plant and test engines. Ducting and other spares can be seen in this shot
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    The control desk for the exhausters in the plant house, complete with mouldy coffee in cups and papers strewn all over like people had just left.
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    One of the early small basic test cell control rooms in the plant house, many of these small scientific labs are position on the mezzanine of the plant house opposite the compressors.
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    Part of the film set of the Matthew McConaughey film SAHARA
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    Another plastic film set prop
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    Close up of one of the electrical bus panels
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    the schematic of the Olympus test cell valve designations
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    The jurbojet was mounted onto this assembly with its butt pointing out towards the exhaust cooling matrix. In front of the intake was a huge moving plate to deflect air when running at supersonic. A jet engine cannot swallow supersonic air so all aircraft that travel faster than sound have baffles or deflectors to control the air flow
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    The humongous intake portal for the Concorde cell, this has been uncoupled from the ducting, it would have normally been linked to one of the large blue ball shaped units which are the intakes for the exhausters.
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    The No.10 Parsons exhauster, built as an extra to supply the required air to run the Mach 2 Olympus.
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    No.10 control desk "see if you can make that thing work?".
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    Entry into the business end of the Olympus test chamber through this huge armoured door! Technicians could access the engine for setups etc thru this portal.
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    The bifurcated exhaust ducting leading from the Olympus test chamber
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    Pressure test capillary couplings for sampling different stages of the Olympus engine, 1st stage, 2nd, compressor, combustion etc
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    The GIGANTIC air intake pipe to feed air to the hungry Olympus engine, it sucked in so much air the 8 exhausters werent enough so they added a ninth onto the side of Cell 4!
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    The underground No.3 cell, the turbines were lowered in via the overhead crane and the thick steel cover doors slid over them. Tis was used mainly for ships turbines, I believe.
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    self explanatory!
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    Electric meters! can you IMAGINE how much power this site devoured?
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    Of course the turbines needed FUEL and heres how it arrived via the site fuel ring main
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    The 8 massive Metropolitain Vickers exhausters in the air house showing the control room behind them with little sound proofing! When these were on max boost the noise must have been horrendouse for the operators
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    standing in front of THIS when the turbines were running would have been VERY HAZARDOUS. Very similar to standing in front of a MASSIVE Dyson vacuum cleaner!
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    Now THESE are what you call a circuit breaker! Would in by hand they connected the massive power station to the air house to begin startup. Probably spooling up each compressor by pressurised steam from the boiler house untill they could be syncronised with the national grid to run on electric. In the event of a 'trip' these would bang out and they make one hell of a noise when they do with lots of dramatic sparks!
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    erm....if the exhausters caught fire you needed these to put it out! They are now all disconnected from the manifold system, but at one stage they could be fired individually or together to supress a fire. Compressed air gets extremely hot so fire was a great risk so the dispersal heads for these would have been on the exhauster units themselves.
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    The battery room with the backup for all the computers an early version of a UPS lol Can you IMAGINE losing power and all your data from an engine run ?
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    the schematic of the air distribution pipes ( the large blue pipes around the site)
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    where the 'driver' sat to run the exhausters and supply the test cells on command from them via intercom. The turbine techs would call AIR ON and the air house opened the huge gate valves and air flowed to the cells. When an Olympus run took place this must have been an AWESOME site to be on!
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    This small turbine was found left behind in situ! The blackened portion is the exhaust end. It looks like a Rolls Royce Dart but cant be sure.
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    and finally!
    a point to ponder - this weird looking matrix is the MASSIVE exhaust end of the Olympus. Pressurised cold water is fed through these pipes to cool the exhaust from the reheat otherwise the steel would melt! On max reheat the Olympus pushed out 38,050 lbs static thrust PER ENGINE. That is some power. I flew on one of the test concordes and a reheat takeoff was AWESOME.
    Sadly like everything else England led the world in jet turbine technology- now with NGTE ready to be demolished we have fallen by the wayside - Concorde is now just a memory. Is is just me or do we seem to be taking massive steps BACKWARDS in technology:(

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    we were there all day for an unforgetable tour of this site soon to be gone forever. Been in a few times and its being torn apart by pikeys!
     
    #1 hazard, Nov 18, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012

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