History in Structure

Building 52C (Main Depot Offices)

A Grade II Listed Building in Fittleton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.2449 / 51°14'41"N

Longitude: -1.7649 / 1°45'53"W

OS Eastings: 416504

OS Northings: 149547

OS Grid: SU165495

Mapcode National: GBR 4Z4.YBY

Mapcode Global: VHB4Z.CZ92

Plus Code: 9C3W66VP+W2

Entry Name: Building 52C (Main Depot Offices)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391822

English Heritage Legacy ID: 502756

ID on this website: 101391822

Location: Wiltshire, SP4

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Fittleton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Fittleton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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01-DEC-05 Building 52c (Main Depot Offices)

Airmen's Institute. Designed 1913, completed mid 1914. Architect DM Franklin, but drawings counter-signed by Col A M Stuart, Assistant Director of Fortifications and Works. Softwood framing with asbestos-cement panel facings and linings, joints covered with painted softwood battens, all set to concrete levelling slabs with plinth offset: asbestos-cement slates set diagonally to roofs. Rectangular plan with verandah to front.

EXTERIOR: similar in date and detail to the principal domestic group on the western side (qqv), with sash windows set to a grid of vertical and horizontal battens, framing openings or covering panel joints. A flat-roofed full-width open veranda on 8 slender timber posts covers a concrete apron, covering 3 sashes and 2 panelled doors, with a further door and small sash in a projecting porch, far right. The rear is similarly detailed. There are two small ridge stacks.

INTERIOR: The interiors have been stripped of fittings, some partitions remain; the composite roof trusses have iron raking tie-rods which are exposed below the raking ceilings.

HISTORY: This is the most distinctive and best-preserved of the technical buildings on this uniquely well-preserved and historically important site, some of the earliest surviving airfield technical buildings in Britain. Development of this part of Netheravon began in January 1913. Of the surviving buildings built for the Motor Transport Depot, 3 workshops line the main service road (Buildings 43B, 43c and 57) and the main depot offices (Building 52C). With Upavon and Larkhill, Netheravon comprises one of three sites around the Army training ground at Salisbury Plain which relate to the crucial formative phase in the development of military aviation in Europe, prior to the First World War. It was the first new squadron station selected and developed by the Royal Flying Corps' Military Wing, the second being Montrose in Scotland where original hangars (listed grade A) have survived. It was also the second new site built by the Royal Flying Corps, the first being the Central Flying School at Upavon which was established in June 1912. A first move was made here prior to Christmas 1912, and in June 1913 the men and machines of the Royal Flying Corps' 3 and 4 Squadrons were relocated from Farnborough to Netheravon; at that time the technical buildings were ready, but tented accommodation was still used as the barracks had not been completed. Netheravon, being one of the stations developed by the Military Wing of the RFC, also hosted a general mobilisation of the RFC's squadrons, from Montrose in Scotland to Farnborough, before going to France with the Expeditionary Force in August 1914. In contrast to the ad hoc planning of Upavon, Netheravon was developed as a prototype flying base with the distinctions between domestic and technical camps, whose buildings had to fulfil a wide range of requirements from workshops to recreational facilities and ordering by rank, which subsequently characterised the planning of RFC and RAF stations. The western domestic site is divided between the officers' accommodation and airmen's barracks; the eastern site still has some technical buildings although the group of six original hangars (later augmented to 15) has all disappeared, the last remaining until at least 1959. It is remarkable how the layout of pre-1914 buildings on the domestic site has been retained intact, and how the principles upon which the base layout was established - a combination of topography and its historical context as a prototype military air base - have formed the template within which subsequent phases of rebuilding and development have operated.

For further details see description of The Officers' Mess (qv).

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