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Rocket Propulsion Establishment
tigger is Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 87
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Warrington
Default Rocket Propulsion Establishment - 04-07-2014, 10:40

It's quiet here so another non-NW visit

I know very little about RAF Westcott or it's subsequent role in the development of rocket motors. It has had many many different names between 1946, Rocket Propulsion Establishment to 2014, Westcott Venture Park.

It seems to have been built to a standard wartime class A design but of more interest now are the many facilities built for rocket motor development. The UK, with the Germans, lead the development of rockets after the war yet like so many technological innovations we din't use that knowledge...first we gave it all to the Americans and secondly Tony Benn said there was no future in technology and set the country back fifty years. Westcott is still used for rocket motor research though nowadays it is small private companies that lead the way. There will be no pictures of their facilities or equipment shown on here.

The first few rocket testing buildings were removed long ago but the few period photos that remain show that we used cameras to remotely monitor the tests. With the arrival of the German scientists (who were in some ways much further forward than us in rocket motor development) new test cells were built and these used the Germans preferred method of direct visual monitoring......until an explosion caused the death of several important scientists. After this monitoring was via protected shelters and mirrors until modern CCTV systems were introduced.

Many of the remaining sites ( A, B, C, D, E, K1, K2, P) are listed, some are still in use and K2 has recently been surveyed to see if it can be put back into use.

First (probably) test cell. Note the camera

A, B, C and D sites. Built around 1947. Oldest surviving test cells (this is the type in which the fatal explosion occurred). These are in two identical groups but used for different purposes. The photos are a mixture from the two groups.

E Site. Didn't have time to visit. An example of it's use was development of the Bristol Siddeley Stentor engine for the Blue Steel project.

A horizontal 1/6 scale sale model was built for silo testing of Blue Steel. A few of the concrete sections remain (there may be others elsewhere on the site but none are in their original location near the centrifuge test bed and temperature controlled buildings.

More to follow

Last edited by tigger; 04-07-2014 at 13:08. Reason: spelling
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