The National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE Pyestock), 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. 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.