Farnborough has been the location for aerospace research for over a century. The first aeroplane flight on British soil was made here by Samuel Cody in 1908, and after the First World War Farnborough became the home of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, the UK’s chief research centre for design and research into aircraft and aero engines.
Hidden away in what is now a business park are two anonymous but historic buildings, prosaically labelled R52 and Q121. These house two of the wind-tunnels once used in aeronautical research – the 4ftx3ft tunnel built in the late 1940s in building R52, and the 24ft tunnel in Q121, which was opened in 1935.
Recently I was one of a small group of photographers who had the privilege of spending a day taking pictures inside these historic buildings, and inside the wind-tunnels themselves. They are not normally open to the public, and access has only been granted a few times in the last thirty years, including use as a film set for the movie “X-Men: First Class”.
The visit was arranged by photographer Matt Emmett, who specialises in discovering and photographing disused architecture, and The Flash Centre, who kindly brought along lighting and camera equipment.
It was a fascinating day and a real privilege to be able to take pictures in such an unusual and historic location.