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Latitude: 51.9152 / 51°54'54"N
Longitude: -1.1441 / 1°8'38"W
OS Eastings: 458968
OS Northings: 224425
OS Grid: SP589244
Mapcode National: GBR 8X4.ZGT
Mapcode Global: VHCX4.4413
Entry Name: Building No 48 (Dining Room and Cookhouse)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393029
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497522
Location: Caversfield, Cherwell, Oxfordshire, OX27
Civil Parish: Caversfield
Built-Up Area: Bicester
Traditional County: Oxfordshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire
Church of England Parish: Bicester with Caversfield
Church of England Diocese: Oxford
SP5824 SKIMMINGDISH LANE (SOUTH-WEST)
1714/0/10041 RAF Bicester: Domestic Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 48 (Dining Room and Cookho
Dining rooms with kitchens, servery and ancillary accommodation. 1926, extended to provide 3 dining areas in 1938. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 184/23, 348/25 and 1775/35. Red brick in stretcher bond, hipped slate roofs.
PLAN: The first dining room, entered on the W side, was backed by the kitchen wing to the rear; extended by a similar room to the left, giving a symmetrical long front, finally with a third room to the rear, right. In 1938, the principal entrance was also moved to what had been the rear of the building, in the internal angle of the two wings, and more easily accessible from the airfield's Technical Site, through a new gateway off the A 421 Bicester/Buckingham road. Dining Room to left (N) converted into a cinema in 1940.
EXTERIOR: The long main front has a slightly projecting hipped centre, formerly the entrance, but now hidden behind a brick blast wall; windows are generally 12-pane sashes, some with an additional 3-pane light at the top, to flush concrete lintels and sills. Right of centre 5 bays, left the same, plus a door, but with the window openings all blocked; this wing also has 4 ridge ventilators. The right return has a hip over a panelled door with over-light on 3 concrete steps. In the internal angle to the rear a flat-roofed canted porch with central door and full height side-lights on the canted sides, all with glazing, and 4 sashes to each wing. The rear has the deep kitchen wing to a flat gabled end with stack, and continuous glazed ridge lantern, including a second gable wall and stack, possibly where the kitchen was extended. There is a large square brick stack to the eaves of the rear dining room. The kitchen has close-set sashes, and extends with a further hipped wing behind and parallel with the front range. The whole has a small boxed eaves, and is entirely in one storey.
INTERIOR: queen-post truss to lantern in cookhouse.
HISTORY: This building retains the architectural style of the first phase of buildings - representative of the first permanent designs for Britain's independent air force - on this uniquely well-preserved and historically important site. As a result of continuing growth, eventually catering for 192 airmen, the building has become a complex T-plan. This development relates to both the development of RAF Bicester and that of military aviation in general in the inter-war period. It is an important part of the group of airfield buildings originally laid out in the 1920's Trenchard Expansion Period, facing the Station Sick Quarters (qv), and in its extended form making a fitting complement to the wide Parade Ground group immediately to its N.
Bicester is the best-preserved of the bomber bases constructed as the principal arm of Sir Hugh Trenchard's expansion of the RAF from 1923, which was based on the philosophy of offensive deterrence. It retains, better than any other military airbase in Britain, the layout and fabric relating to both pre-1930s military aviation and the development of Britain's strategic bomber force - and the manner in which its expansion reflected domestic political pressures as well as events on the world stage - in the period up to 1939. It was this policy of offensive deterrence that essentially dominated British air power and the RAF's existence as an independent arm of the military in the inter-war period, and continued to determine its shape and direction in the Second World War and afterwards during the Cold War. The grass flying field still survives with its 1939 boundaries largely intact, bounded by a group of bomb stores built in 1938/9 and airfield defences built in the early stages of the Second World War. For much of the Second World War RAF Bicester functioned as an Operational Training Unit, training Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders as well as British air crews for service in Bomber Command. These OTUs, of which Bicester now forms the premier surviving example, fulfilled the critical requirement of enabling bomber crews - once individual members had trained in flying, bombing, gunnery and navigation - to form and train as units.
For further historical details see Building 16 (Officers' Quarters and Mess).
(Dobinson,C: Airfield Themes (Report for English Heritage), 1997; Francis,P: British Military Airfield Architecture, 1996; Francis,P: RAF Bicester (Site Report for Cherwell District Council), 1996, 59)
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