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Latitude: 53.033 / 53°1'58"N
Longitude: -0.5096 / 0°30'34"W
OS Eastings: 500039
OS Northings: 349456
OS Grid: TF000494
Mapcode National: GBR FQ2.XMR
Mapcode Global: WHGK5.41L4
Plus Code: 9C5X2FMR+64
Entry Name: Building 16 (Iot Headquarters)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1391598
English Heritage Legacy ID: 495991
Location: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap, North Kesteven, Lincolnshire, NG34
District: North Kesteven
Civil Parish: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap
Traditional County: Lincolnshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire
Church of England Parish: Cranwell St Andrew
Church of England Diocese: Lincoln
CRANWELL AND BYARDS LEAP
1311/0/10001 RAFC CRANWELL
01-DEC-05 Building 16 (IOT Headquarters)
Mess building. 1933-4, by the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings. Dark brown brick in Flemish bond, Portland stone dressings, slate roof.
PLAN: Long symmetrical front range facing north, and on the main axis of Queens Avenue facing the Cadet College (Building 441, qv); this range in double depth, with short projecting wings and central lobby. At each end a long single storey wing extends back, retuning with short pavilions, defining a courtyard, with wide access way through the lower storey. All units have hipped roofs to concealed parapet gutters. The interiors not inspected, but the 2-storey blocks are double-banked; the front block has a staircase at each end.
EXTERIOR: Windows are generally glazing-bar sashes in flush boxes, to brick voussoirs and stone sills. The N front is in 1:4:1:4:1 bays, the end pavilions with 18-pane, and main body with large 20-pane above 24-pane. The inner returns to the pavilions have a 12-pane above two 8-pane, and the centre a mid-height 24-pane. A pair of central panelled hardwood doors with radial fanlight is set on one step in a Portland stone Doric door-case, with moulded architrave and bold keystone to the doors, and full architrave plus blocking course to a shallow balcony, reached by a pair of French doors in stone architrave, with flat cornice on brackets. The end pavilions each have a panelled door under honeycomb light, in a broad architrave with quintuple keystones. The return to the right (W) has a mid-height 8-pane sash, then 3 bays with 15 above 18-pane, but the lower centre sash 24-pane. The left return has a similar layout, but the ground floor has a deep wide 3-bay flat-roofed porch with central panelled doors and overlight, flanked by 18-pane lights, and windows to the returns. Brick piers have slender Doric stone columns flanking the door, on stone plinths, and carrying a full width stone entablature with 3-course brick blocking and stone parapet.
The straight brick wall to this range has a series of close-set 15-pane sashes to the upper floor broken near the W end by a flat-roof extension; near the E end is a tall eaves stack.
The low wings are in 12 bays, with mainly 12-pane sashes, and the W wing has a panelled door with honeycomb overlight and stone surround, in bay 3. Both wings return to a 3-bay pavilion, with a central arched door with margin-pane glazing, in a deep wide recess to a broad arch in two rows of voussoirs; to each side is a 12-pane sash, and a door and small casement have been added to the W wing. The E wing returns, with 12-pane sashes, and has a double range enclosing a narrow interior court. Brick walls approx 2m high, stopped to broad piers at two wide openings enclose the main courtyard, and this contains the separate 2-storey block in 9 bays, but with seven 12-pane at first floor above four 12-pane, a wide square-headed throughway, a further deep square-headed recess, and a door in stone surround to the ground floor. This block has 3 tall stacks to the inner eaves. All ranges, and the stacks, have simple flush stone copings; the yard walls have brick-on-edge copings; all have a slightly projecting brick plinth.
HISTORY: Like the other principal buildings dating from the re-planning of the West Camp in 1932-4, this one is meticulously detailed, and remains practically unaltered externally. It faces a parade ground flanked by barracks, part of the bold re-planning of West Camp completed in 1934. Its design in plain walls with well proportioned and spaced windows contrasts effectively with the much richer detailing of the principal College (qv), which it complements across the N-S axis, at a distance of some 400m.
It comprises an integral part of a site that is key to the development of Britain's military air power. When the RAF was formed as the world's first independent air force in April 1918, and during the period of retrenchment which lasted from the Armistice until the early 1920s, its founding father and first Chief of Air Staff, General Sir Hugh Trenchard, concentrated upon developing its strategic role as an offensive bomber force. His primary considerations were in laying the foundations for a technology-based service, through the training of officers at Cranwell and technicians at Halton (Buckinghamshire).
The foundation of a college to train RAF officers on the lines of Sandhurst or Dartmouth was a key element in Trenchard's plan for the permanent organisation of Britain's independant air force, whose potency was considered to rest on the effectiveness of officer and technical training. Although best-known for its RAF Cadet College - the RAF equivalent of the Army's college at Sandhurst and the Navy's at Dartmouth - Cranwell has in addition a long aviation history, dating back to the earliest years of the service. In early 1918 it was established as a Training Depot Station, but it had previously been used by the Royal Naval Air Service, from whom the RAF inherited temporary hutting on the West Camp. Also from 1918 a Radio Training School was based here, remaining until 1945, and the Cadet College dates from 1919. The whole was renamed RAF College in 1929, and it was a Service Flying Trainng School from 1939. From August 1925, until he left the RAF in 1935, T E Lawrence served at Cranwell: his experiences of life on the base are recorded in The Mint, 1936.
Although work was largely completed at Halton ( the apprentice base for training up personnel in a technology-based service) by 1923, work at Cranwell was delayed through uncertainties about location and costs: the result was that the main Cadet College was not begun until 1929, and the major domestic buildings until after 1933. In the gestation period major decisions were made about overall planning at the base. College Hall was envisaged to be self-contained, sited to the N of the road, with a favourable prospect to the S centred on the principal axis which passes through the main gates to the principal parade ground of the air station. The air station's domestic buildings which in 1933-4 replaced the West Camp hutting - particularly York Mess, the Institute of the Initial Officer Training Group HQ (Building 16) fronting onto a parade ground and flanking barracks blocks and the Central Flying School Headquarters (Building 259) - were completed to a high design standard. This dramatic example of Air Ministry planning was designed to enhance the overall effect of College Hall and its grounds through its architectural quality and layout, and represented a clear response to the Royal Fine Art Commission's recommendations to the Air Ministry of February 1932. The hangars (not included) lie to the south, facing the main flying area. The airfield is very extensive, with flying fields both to N and S, and a public road (B1429) separates the two parts.
(C S Dobinson, Royal Air Force Cranwell (report for English Heritage), 1998)
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
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