As a backdrop to our Canyon Aeroad photoshoot we used the site of the original Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough Airfield, writes team photographer Hugh McManus.
All that remains is a collection of large, enigmatic buildings, which give little outward clue to their original function.
The site was first established in 1904 for the construction of airships but was rapidly eclipsed by experimentation in powered flight and the production of early aircraft to meet the urgencies of war.
The outbreak of the First World War placed increased demand on the rapidly developing aircraft industry and its ability to manufacture large numbers of aircraft. And by late 1914 the factory entered a new phase of development and expansion.
At the end of the war in 1918 the factory entered a new phase as the centre for government aviation and research and development.
With the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918, the Royal Aircraft Factory was renamed the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) to avoid confusion.
It prospered and expanded for the next 75 years, through the Second World War and then the Cold War, finally becoming the Defence Research Agency 1991 and the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency in 1995.
The historic site houses three major wind tunnels, the 24’ low speed wind tunnel (Q121 Building) constructed during the 1930s, the No.2 11.5’ low speed wind tunnel (R136 Building) and the 8’ x 6’ transonic wind tunnel within R133 Building.
Both Q121 and R133, the backdrop to our photoshoot, are now Grade I listed buildings. The wind tunnels remained in use up to 1988. An operational wind tunnel still remains in Farnborough at the nearby QinetiQ site.
For those interested in the wind tunnels, follow these links to find out more
FAST (Farnborough Air Services Trust) and QinetiQ.