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Report - - Brabazon Hangar, Filton - June 2017 | Industrial Sites |

Report - Brabazon Hangar, Filton - June 2017

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( . Y . )
Regular User
Brabazon Hangar - Filton, Bristol

Visited with @Salmon after a lot of trial and error, before being joined by @Seffy and @WhoDaresWins later on. First report since the great photo-fucket of 2017 so let's see how this goes..


The hangar shortly before completion in 1946

Some history - I'd recommend reading if you're even remotely interested in British aviation history:

In 1943 Lord Brabazon of Tara headed a Committee to explore the needs of post war British civilian passenger airliners. The Brabazon Report was the result of the committee’s work, which recommended the construction of four of the five designs under consideration.

One of the designs studied was awarded to The Bristol Aeroplane Company at Filton and the aircraft was named the Bristol Type 167 Brabazon. Their contract was for the construction of two prototypes of this aircraft . Work started on the first aircraft in 1946 and it was ready for its maiden flight in September 1949. It visited the Farnborough Air Show the same month and was demonstrated at the Paris Air Show in 1951.

This aircraft, one of the largest in the world, necessitated the existing 2000 foot runway at Filton to be lengthened to 8000 feet, requiring the demolition and removal of a local village. The construction and assembly of this very large aircraft also required the construction of a similarly large assembly hall building. Construction of the building commenced in 1946, under the direction of T. P. O'Sullivan. At the time, the hangar doors and the railway level crossing for the aircraft were the largest in the world, and it was the largest single span steel structure in the world After a worker was crushed and killed while taking a nap in one of the folds of the hangar doors, a siren was installed to warn employees when the doors were being operated. It comprised 3 separate bays, total length 352 metres, height at apex of bay 35 metres, total enclosed volume 1 million cubic metres.


Bristol 167 Brabazon Mk1 outside the East Bay - October 1947

Sadly, the Brabazon aircraft became a “white elephant” as the airlines BOAC and BEA never expressed any serious interest in ordering the aircraft. Only the first prototype was built and flew, but was broken up in October 1953 - flying life of 400 hours over only 4 years. A second prototype was commenced but progressed no further than an incomplete fuselage before also being broken up.


No less than 4 British-built Concorde's under construction in the central bay of the hangar - late 1960s

The cessation of the ill-fated Brabazon project did not, however, mark the end of the building's huge significance to British aviation history. The Bristol Type 175 Britannia was built in the hangar, and later, in the 1960s, all of the British-built Concorde's were constructed in the building. In it's later days it came under the command of Airbus and then BAE who used it for aircraft maintenance and servicing until around 2009, when it shut along with the rest of Filton Aerodrome.


A hugely significant site, which was sadly denied listed status in 2012. From an exploring point of view it isn't half bad either - one of those immensely rewarding explores in which one must overcome several obstacles, each one more challenging than it's predecessor, if one wants to even contemplate seeing inside the hangar and marvelling at the awesome space. In our case, this marvelling lasted all of ten seconds before the merde well and truly hit the Vent Axia and we had to make a speedy retreat, only to have to overcome all of the same obstacles later that evening!

The asbestos bods are in at the moment, which could be somewhat of a double-edged sword - on the one hand, they've ripped the ceilings out of some of the old offices and gutted other parts, but on the other hand I suspect we would not have been able to gain access at all had it not been for their presence.. either way, I'm still going to blame the Bristol lads for resting on their laurels whilst a middle-aged woman and I put them to shame :p

Here's the photos. I believe the saying goes 'you can't polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter', and lightroom has definitely been my glitter. I'll start with the Central Bay, the largest of the 3 bays and an awe-inspiring space - note the asbestos removal guys portacabins for a sense of scale:




Dated signage abounds:




Interesting latticework towards the rear wall:



The East Bay - note the huge curtain on a yellow rail at the far end, which was until a few years ago a paint shop. A lot of different aircraft were sprayed in there, including RAF Tristars and VC-10s.



Foyer - as recently as a couple of years ago I found this 80s crap depressing but it's just starting to come into it's own I feel



Welfare and amenities - again, something I would have dismissed as modern a few years back but that's slowly starting to feel interesting








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( . Y . )
Regular User
Back to the roof space - note the offices with their stripped ceilings (they looked mainly modern anyway so not sure we've missed much)


And moving into the West Bay, the ground floor of which is now used as a timber merchants:



More dated signage



Back in the East Bay, various old vehicles have been dumped, the most notable of which was a 1950s fire engine in 'British Aircraft Corporation' livery which I was unable to take a snap of before we had to make (yet another) speedy exit..




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A fellow of infinite jest
28DL Full Member
Interesting read and an awesome place. Reminds me of Cardington with those lattice beams and huge riveted plates.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Fantastic! You captured that well and I love the write up. :thumb
It was a fab day out and really nice to meet the Bristol chaps.
I got a couple of pictures of the fire engine.

Filton aircraft hangers explore #2 028.JPG

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It was an interesting group of vehicles. The bus had been a cinema and there were a couple of helicopters and a tank.
Filton aircraft hangers explore #2 032.JPG

Inside the tank.
Filton aircraft hangers explore #2 042.JPG

I know @clebby will love this picture of 'robots' in the roof. ;)
Filton aircraft hangers explore #2 008.JPG

Oxygen Thief

Staff member
That's nice work Clebby, used to be fun mooching about at Filton when it was live, I don't think I've been there since it closed.

Much else else going on there?

Camera Shy

Old enough to know better
Regular User
Some history right there. Never hear of it to be honest but a great looking place well captured.


( . Y . )
Regular User
Much else else going on there?

Yes, lots. Even within the hangar compound there were loads of other buildings we didn't have time to check.. admittedly most looked pretty modern inside, but I've no doubt there's some more gems to be hunted out if you're willing to put the effort in.


Staff member
Banging write up as usual. Enjoyed this, thanks for the invite. Put us to shame given we hadn't even been on the site until now :banghead

Looking forward to the next jaunt..

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Again loving the comparison shots. Great place, nice open spaces.:cool: Strange old vehicles, but not so old that I don`t remember the green buses lol. Loved this, hahahaha making a speedy exit, *cough cough* love it :thumb

Question; Would you describe Urbexing as just doing abandoned places, or would urbexing include being somewhere we shouldnt be, or somewhere that doesn't allow photos ? Curious as I believe its both lol. Opinion would be great :p

Baggy trousers

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
That's some history there! Absolutely awesome place!
Brilliant write up and nicely captured, I know what you mean on the 80s stuff too :)
Thanks for sharing!