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Building 259 (Station Headquarters)

A Grade II Listed Building in Sleaford, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0339 / 53°2'2"N

Longitude: -0.5064 / 0°30'23"W

OS Eastings: 500253

OS Northings: 349560

OS Grid: TF002495

Mapcode National: GBR FQ2.YL4

Mapcode Global: WHGK5.603F

Plus Code: 9C5X2FMV+HC

Entry Name: Building 259 (Station Headquarters)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391599

English Heritage Legacy ID: 495992

Location: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap, North Kesteven, Lincolnshire, NG34

County: Lincolnshire

District: North Kesteven

Civil Parish: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap

Built-Up Area: Cranwell RAF College and Airfield

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Cranwell St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Listing Text


1311/0/10002 RAFC CRANWELL
01-DEC-05 Building 259 (Station Headquarters)

Headquarters building, Central Flying School. Dated 1934, by the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings. Dark brown brick in Flemish bond, Portland stone dressings, Westmoreland slate roof.

PLAN: Double-banked office building in 2 storeys, L-plan, main entrance facing W, towards main parade ground. Central lobby and staircase hall, secondary entrances to wings.

ELEVATIONS: All windows are 12-pane sashes in flush boxes, to brick voussoir heads, and stone sills; roofs hipped, to concealed gutters. The entrance front in 3:7:3 bays, central pair of glazed doors on 2 steps in stone surround to channelled pilasters with alternating quoins, and straight cornice above frieze with carved 1934 date, and carrying octagonal finials with flambeaux: above the cornice, also in 'Gibbsian' surround and moulded segmental head, a 12-pane sash. Each wing pavilion has glazed door in channelled quoins and to flat cornice with keystone to architrave and frieze; the outer end of the right wing has a door similarly detailed. The return to the right has a central 5 bays with raised brick parapet coped in stone, and with a large stone urn at each end. The central bay has an oculus at first floor in square stone panel with raised decorative swag surround. This central section is stopped to slightly projecting brick piers beneath the urns, beyond which is one standard bay each side.
The back of the main range has a large 21-pane staircase light to segmental head, and detail as the corresponding window to the front; this is flanked by 3 bays each side, the long wing to the left, and projecting pavilion wing to the right, with 3-bay end as the others, but ground floor central 12-pane sash above stone apron and surround.
A moulded stone cornice with lead dressing to concealed gutter and external downpipes is carried round the whole building at the same level, except for the raised parapet to the S. There is a large eaves stack on the return to the left, and all roofs have lead ridges and hips.

INTERIOR: The central entrance hall has a concrete dog-leg staircase with nosings, heavy square steel paired balusters, and broad swept hardwood handrail. Detail is broadly in Art Deco style.

HISTORY: Like the other principal buildings dating from the re-planning of West Camp in 1932-4, of the buildings on the base, the HQ is carefully and consistently detailed in high quality materials. The studied neo-Georgian design reflects the concern of the RAF at this time to meet the raised design standards suggested and monitored by the Royal Fine Arts Commission.

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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