Bristol Times feature on the refurbishment of iconic Pegasus House, Filton, a landmark building in the city's world-famous aerospace industry.
Named after the white winged-horse of Greek mythology, Pegasus House at Filton has finally been recognised as one of Bristol's most historically important buildings.
Empty for 20 years, since staff moved out, the old Bristol Aeroplane Company building has suffered from vandalism, including graffiti and fire damage to the old conference room.
Fronting the busy A38, almost opposite Filton church, the Grade II listed building is, at present, covered in scaffolding and plastic in order to keep out the elements – rain, wind and snow.
But now, under an extensive restoration and renovation programme – in fact as part a rolling programme which involves the re-building of the whole Airbus site – Pegasus House will be restored and many of its original features reinstated.
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When work is finally completed, hopefully by the autumn, the five storey building, now fit for the 21st century, will welcome a new generation of workers, inspired by the past.
Neighbouring Old Filton House, the company's HQ from 1910 to 1966, is also being refurbished.
Both buildings, it is hoped, will become historic landmarks in the massive 21st century developments now taking place on the Filton site.
Opened in 1936, Pegasus House – known as New Filton House – was a celebration in stone, brick and glass of the city's ever expanding aircraft industry and its importance to the national economy.
Despite the problems of the time no expense was spared on the lavish building, which was designed in the Art Deco style by the famous architect Austin Hall.
The aim today is to put back as many historic features as possible, including a fine sculpture of Mercury and a Portland stone carved Pegasus by Denis Dunlop, both of which grace the outside of the building.
With English Heritage, as you might expect, taking a great interest in the work, attention to detail is everything.
"We have discovered that the building was very well constructed with very thick walls and cork insulation," says project manager Steve Fowles.
"We have had to put in new electric cabling but we will be putting back all the original lighting, including the Art Deco lights in the main entrance.
"The original windows will be re-instated, the stained glass murals repaired and the building repainted in its original colours, blue and cream, with a black band around the basement.
"The stone walling outside will be repaired and, where water has got in and damaged brickwork, the originals will be cleaned and put back in."
A fine Denis Dunlop mosaic in the main entrance vestibule, featuring a sun, the winds and the 12 signs of the zodiac, picked out in German silver and inlaid in marble, will have pride of place in the re-furbished building.
"I think that the mosaic was made as a bit of fun, a bit of a joke," says Sir George White, whose great-grandfather, the original Sir George, was responsible for starting the aircraft company over 100 years ago.
"The Zodiac, a French plane, was the company's very first aircraft, but it was no good and never actually went into production.
"My great-grandfather then developed his own plane, the Boxkite, which, as you know, was a great success."
Presently being restored by a specialist company is a large, eye catching stained glass window which covers the length of three floors, illuminating the building with natural light.
The window, which depicts the history of the company, was specially commissioned and designed by Jan Juta, famous for his work with stained glass.
In its heyday Pegasus House housed hundreds of aircraft personnel, mostly draughtsmen.
But only Sir George, the directors and their guests were allowed to use the imposing A38 front entrance and ornate, specially commissioned, black and gold iron gates designed by Austen Hall.
"The basement housed the wages and accounts offices and the ground floor the directors' rooms," explains local historian Jackie Sims, who, along with her history society has been keeping a close watch on the semi-derelict building.
"The second floor had a projector and cinema room and third was used as an exclusive director's dining room.
"On the first floor was the conference room, which has a high ceiling and five tall window bays containing 10 plaster of Paris murals depicting the natural history of flight."
This room, which had acoustic tiling, was badly damaged by squatters and the murals are currently being restored to their original condition before being hoisted back into place. The 1920s and 1930s – the inter-war years – were seen as a golden age of aviation in which anything was possible.
But despite all the optimism, war with Nazi Germany was on the horizon.
By the mid 1930s BAC – the Bristol Aeroplane Company – was receiving a massive increase in orders for aircraft and engines for the Air Ministry's re-armament programme.
Over it's 60 years as an office Pegasus House saw many VIPs and famous people come through its doors.
"Churchill, the wartime leader, was here, of course, as well as numerous Government ministers," says Sir George.
"And Queen Mary, who was staying at Badminton during the war, visited many times, as have many other members of the royal family.
"The Hollywood actor, Bristol-born Cary Grant, was also a visitor.
"Pegasus House – and the whole Bristol aircraft industry – is a credit to my grandfather, Sir Stanley, who was a quiet, self-effacing man who shunned the limelight, but who quietly got things done.
"I think that he deserves more praise than he gets today."
When completed Filton's 12-acre Airbus aerospace park, which includes the two historic, listed, buildings, will bring 2,500 engineers and designers together on one site.