pyestock | recce

The first time on a new site is always nerve wracking. You lack all the familiarity, you’re disorientated, you’re uncertain of what’s around the next corner, and weird noises tend to cause over anxious responses. Like spending the first night in an old house, it simply takes a while to get used to the environment. So, it was with high spirits, and equally high nerves, that Tom and I found ourselves ferreting around the industrial bulk of the former National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE), which was also known as Pyestock. It was an internationally renowned turbine development and testing laboratory, at one time the most advanced and best in the world, a home to both top-secret military projects and commercial activities. It’s public claim to fame was the development of Concorde’s engines, but all sorts of other work had taken place in its huge testing facilities and laboratories.

Now, mostly unused and surplus to requirements, Pyestock’s fate was demolition and replacement by a supermarket distribution centre. Such a redevelopment was a concrete example of the whole situation unfolding in the UK: former manufacturing buildings testament to this country’s ability to make, test and produce things begin demolished and swept away for a bloody supermarket depot, a knowing wink to the fact that we can now only move things around before consuming them. It was a piss-poor epitaph for Pyestock. So we were going to see it, and attempt to document it, before it disappeared forever.