Aerial view of British Aerospace in 1966

By Pauline Maryan

Aerial view of British Aerospace in 1966
Stevenage Museum P7644
This page was added on 14/02/2011.

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  • I worked here from 1968-71 having been recruited as a graduate of Regent St Polytechnic. Worked on ELDO (Blue Streak) ground checkout facility. Visited Spadeadam Rocket Test Site on several occasions (I’m in Durham on holiday and found this site whilst researching what became of that facility. Now RAF base).
    After ELDO was cancelled (like too many aerospace projects at that time), I, along with ~20 other engineers, were sent to California to work on a proposal with TRW Systems for the MOD to build a communication satellite (Skynet 2). Unfortunately, we lost the build contract to BAC/Hughes and having become disillusioned with the industry, I left to join Cambridge University Zoology department to manage their computer systems (PDP 8 & 12). Spent idyllic 2 years in academia before going back into industry in the fast growing Computer Industry.

    Now retired having spent 50 years at both UK and US companies.

    By Roger Scarlett (19/07/2022)
  • Hi Paul,

    Concorde radomes were definitely made in the Reinforced and Microwave Plastics Group (RMPG) in Stevenage. I worked there from 1977 through 1995, and I was fortunate enough to tour through the RMPG facility as part of my apprenticeship.

    I helped test what I was told was the last production Concorde radome in 1978/79.

    The radomes were tested for uniform transparency to radar by hoisting them to the top of a tall tower, mounting them on a test fixture with an integral receiver, and sweeping them past a fixed microwave source that was mounted on an adjacent building. If the received signal wasn’t uniform in strength any discrepancies were smoothed out by applying dielectric paint in the ‘thin’ spots prior to re-test and final acceptance.

    The tower ‘starred’ in two movies: It can clearly be seen at the beginning of The Big Sleep (1978) as Robert Mitchum drives up the A1-M slip road on his way to Knebworth House, and there’s a brief glimpse of it in the preamble to Led Zeppelin’s 2003 concert video.

    Here’s the Big Sleep sighting:

    The tower is in view for the first 16 seconds. There’s also a bonus glimpse of the BAC Apprentice Association’s grey-and-white minibus at the 17 second mark 🙂

    The Led Zeppelin appearance is on youtube here:

    The tower is the tallest thing on the horizon at the 12 second mark, directly over the blue and white VW camper van (there’s a Novotel on that spot today).

    I hope that helps!



    By Dave W (17/11/2021)
  • Hi all,

    I am doing some research around the production of the composite radome (Nose cone) for Concorde. I own a nose cone that was I believe made for the prototype Concorde 002 which is on display at FAA museum at Yeovilton. There seems to be some confusion as to where exactly the nose cones were made. I have spoken to people at Marshalls of Cambridge and Brooklands at Weybridge but all my research seems to be pointing towards BAC Stevenage. Obviously there were design changes made between the prototype and the subsequent pre production and production aircraft that we all know and marvel over. If there is anyone who can possibly help with information or if any apprentices that did work on this aspect of the Concorde development in the 60’s&70’s that could help and possibly chat -email etc I would be very grateful. Obviously any documents or photos that might help will always be very welcome too. Thanks in anticipation. If anyone is interested in the story so far and other interesting Concorde facts please check out – N.B. research has been a little thin of late due to external influences but is now back in full flow.

    By Paul Phillips (19/02/2021)
  • My Dad worked here from 1957 his name was Lionel Grove (people called him Lionel, but his first name was Edward). I was three at the time and remember the great Christmas parties. We came to Stevenage from Blackpool, very unusual in those days.

    By Yvonne Flint (24/01/2021)
  • Martin B, if you ever look back at this page, Gunnells Wood Road runs across the foreground, the railway across the top and Argyle Way up the left side.

    By Geoff Stevens (31/12/2020)
  • my dad work there. Les King

    By Allan (23/09/2020)
  • Does anyone recall an underground (museum?)/storage facility having aircraft in?

    By spencer wilmot (21/05/2020)
  • looking for long lost friend ( Irene Ford ) worked as an office girl in one of the big blocks on site. 1956>

    By R Newton (16/08/2019)
  • I was a craft apprentice at English Electric Six hills way, starting in 1957 with Tony McCullagh, Keith (Yolly) Yates, Ray Elmes. I left in 1961 to play in a pop band & tour the world (well europe)…happy days as an apprentice though, great food in the canteen with our meal tickets
    I remember training at the training school on Wilbury Way in Hitchin (Just looking at the photo of us all) & Penny and Halfpenny Tea tickets to buy your cup of tea & cheese roll ..

    By Leonard (Len) Crawley (31/07/2019)
  • I worked in the Fire Dept of Hawker Siddlely [Siddley. Ed.] Dynamics late 60s early 70s.I was sub Officer to Station Officer Albert Horne at the time, we used to have yearly Fire competitions every year against mainly Aircraft factories around Hertfordshire our main opponents were allways BAC, the last year i was there we won every cup and can remember the Chairman of the Company being over the moon and had all the cups displayed in a specially built cabinet in his office, he invited me up to get approval along with Albert of course, He was very proud of our Internal Fire Brigade and of course would not have won if not for our team who worked so hard to win. I can remember the Fire Station quite small but had two fire appliances that were always at the ready.The Fire team were always on standby by way of company alarms and would assemble at the Station in the event of an fire of which i can recall hardly ever happened as we were always on patrol and giving advice and keeping fire regs up to date, everyone as didcated to safety, had to be building the Blue Steak Rocket was no mean feat.

    By Brian Hedges (08/02/2019)
  • My father and his brother worked here Harry Dransfield. With his brother Alf Dransfield 1977 to
    1982 Draftsman Anybody remember them Thanks. Richard

    By Richard Dransfield (11/07/2018)
  • Like many of the people on this comment page I too served an apprenticeship at B.A.C. and I very much doubt there are initiatives offered to young people today which are of the same high quality. We were very lucky.
    Following my apprenticeship I continued to work there for four and a half years before leaving at the end of 1969.
    Yes I remember the canteen where the Premier Inn is now, there used to be different serving rooms according to your level in the company. The food was good and as an apprentice you got subsidised meals up to the age of 18 – still got my meal pass!!
    Worked in many different departments as an apprentice and afterwards worked in N & P buildings until I left.
    It focuses the mind when you look at the industry that existed in Stevenage during the 60’s/70’s and which has since vanished. In its prime B.A.C. employed 7000 people.
    I’m having trouble identifying the aerial shot of the factory above!!

    By Martin B (02/06/2018)
  • I was an apprentice at the Hawker Siddely Dynamics site in Hatfield starting in September 1969. Following my apprenticeship I was employed as a design draftsmanship in the guided weapons design offices and was then seconded to Stevenage working on the USGW (under surface guided weapon) project in 1975, which was a submarine launched sea skimming anti ship missile.
    For a young guy of 23 this was a great place to be, working on new projects and surrounded by such clever and talented people. As is the case with a lot of these advanced studies of the time, the project
    got cancelled and was to be replaced by an American missile instead, but this nether happened either.
    From the ashes of USGW grew another missile study which did become a success and went into service some years later as Sea Eagle. Although by this time I had left the company to work for Marconi Elliott Bros, my father Anthony Caesari (aka Chez) who I can thank for coaxing me into the industry was the Chief Designer of Sea Eagle. Prior to his time working on missiles, in the early 60s he played a significant part in the Blue Streak space programme also based at Stevenage working alongside some of the inspirational leaders of the day…Charlie Martin worthy of mention here.
    For all of us that can remember these times, I am sure we can all agree the Industry provided us with a firm grounding for shaping our careers. I am happy to say I still enjoy the challenge of the workplace and the learning it offers after nearly 50 years in the Industry.

    By Tony Caesari (09/02/2018)
  • I served a 5 year apprenticeship there mostly in the Instrument Wing toolroom until I left in 1965 and emigrated to the USA. I have many memories including my pre apprenticeship working in different departments including the Pilot Factory and the Library in O building. I also worked in the Lapping Dept, Grinding Room, Cutter grinding and learned a lot of very high level precision skills that served me well until I retired. The RoundAbouts near the factory were part of my personal race track on the way to and from work on my motorcycle…good times that I look back on with fondness…at least until I got my first speeding ticket.

    By Michael Tooley (19/06/2017)
  • I began my working life as a pre-apprentice at English Electric in April 1955. I was located in the ‘Pilot Factory’, which still exists, moving across the road to A-B building when the builders finished it.

    The canteen was located where the Premier Inn now stands.

    In September 1955 when I became 15 my apprenticeship began in the training school on Wilbury Way in Hitchin.

    I left English Electric in 1964.

    It was a good start to a life in engineering and now good to look back on.


    By Rex Burr (08/03/2016)
  • Just to go back even further … I started my Apprenticeship at English Electric Ltd in 1957 well before it was even renamed English Electric Aviation or any of the ongoing name changes. One memory I have of those early days was that if you wanted a cup of tea at teabreak on the shopfloor, you had to buy a Two Shilling card of Penny and Halfpenny Tea tickets to make your purchase as the Tealady didn’t carry cash on her trolley. If you also invested in a bread roll and butter, the butter came in little round pats with the English Electric logo impressed in it ….. just so you didn’t forget who was in charge!

    By Fred Paine (21/10/2012)
  • I think you should add that the picture shows the Space Division which in 1966 would be Hawker Siddeley Dynamics Space Division, later to become British Aerospace and now Astrium. Not to be confused with the larger site off Six Hills Way which in 1966 was British Aircraft Corporation, then British Aerospace Dynamics and now MBDA

    By Robert Gill (04/10/2011)