THE DUKE of Gloucester was due to reopen Filton's newly-restored Pegasus House for business at an official ceremony today - 20 years after the birthplace of British aviation industry was abandoned.

Inaugurated in 1936 as headquarters of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the Grade II listed art deco building had been left derelict for nearly two decades when Airbus took the decision to restore it to its former glory.

Renovation work began 18 months ago and the iconic house now forms part of the manufacturer's £70 million Airbus Aerospace Park.

Prince Richard was expected to travel to Filton to unveil the overhauled historic property this morning.

A total of 300 employees will be based at Pegasus House, while 2,500 engineers will work from Barnwell House on the site, which is due to officially open in December.

Staff will make the move into their new listed offices over the weekend and on Monday.

The building was damaged by two fires, damp and was repeatedly vandalised before being bought and restored by Airbus. As part of the mammoth restoration project, the art deco stained glass window which covered one of the large façades was renovated, as was the floor mosaic in the main lobby, representing the signs of the zodiac.

Most of the iconic property's stunning features were also preserved, including the 1930s reliefs, marble flooring and columns.

On Tuesday, Sir George White, the grandson of Sir Stanley White, one of the founding directors of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, who opened Pegasus House in 1936, unveiled a plaque to be placed on the main gates, which have been named after his illustrious ancestor.

Sir George, who lives in Rudgeway, told the Gazette he was delighted to see the imposing listed property, which had meant so much to him and his family, finally brought back to life.

"It was a very special place for me," he said. "I used to come here to see my grandfather. "The whole place was absolutely wrecked. Pegasus House suffered at least two fires. It's wonderful to see it in action again."

At its height Pegasus House was visited by royals as well as Winston Churchill and Hollywood star Cary Grant among many others.

Head of engineering at Airbus, Neil Scott, said: "Airbus have invested a huge amount of money and time both restoring Pegasus House and building a brand new building. We've not just invested in the future of our business, we have also invested in protecting the heritage of our site."