The Gazette and ThisIsBristol.com have both ran stories on the restoration of Pegasus House, the Grade II listed art deco building in Filton which once housed the Bristol Aeroplane Company. That restoration is now complete with the Duke of Gloucester taking part in the official ceremony yesterday to mark the completion.
Designed by Austen Hall and inaugurated in 1936 as headquarters of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Pegasus House once housed hundreds of aircraft personnel (mostly draughtsmen), but only founder Sir George, the directors and their guests (including various royals along with Winston Churchill and Hollywood star Cary Grant) could use the imposing A38 front entrance and the ornate, specially commissioned, black and gold iron gates.
According to a local historian, the basement housed the wages and accounts offices, the ground floor contained the directors’ rooms, the first floor held the conference room (with a high ceiling and five tall window bays containing 10 plaster of Paris murals depicting the natural history of flight), the second floor had a projector and cinema room and the third floor was used as an exclusive director’s dining room.
However, the building had been left derelict for nearly two decades when it was damaged by two fires, the damp and repeatedly vandalized by squatters, but then Airbus decided to restore it to its former glory. Renovation work began 18 months ago and now the restored building forms part of the manufacturer’s £70 million Airbus Aerospace Park.
A total of 300 employees will be based at Pegasus House and they are scheduled to move in over the weekend with another 2,500 engineers are set to work from Barnwell House on the site when it officially reopens in December.
Most of the property’s stunning art deco features were preserved, including the 1930s reliefs, marble flooring, columns and most special of all – the three story art deco stained glass window covering one of the large façades. The window was designed to illuminate the building with natural light and depicts the depicts the history of the company. It was specially commissioned and designed by Jan Juta who was famous for his work with stained glass.
In addition, the floor mosaic in the main lobby representing the signs of the zodiac was also restored. Apparently, the Zodiac was the company’s very first aircraft, but it was “no good and never actually went into production” according to Sir George White, whose great-grandfather had started the company.