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Latitude: 51.9173 / 51°55'2"N
Longitude: -1.1459 / 1°8'45"W
OS Eastings: 458839
OS Northings: 224653
OS Grid: SP588246
Mapcode National: GBR 8X4.R35
Mapcode Global: VHCX4.321J
Entry Name: Building No 23 and 25 (Type H Barracks Block)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393030
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497518
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)
1714/0/10046 RAF Bicester: Domestic Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 23 and 25 (Type H Barracks
Airmen's barracks blocks. 1939, to 1938 design of Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings (drawing number 1132 and 11587/38). Reinforced concrete floors and roof on Flemish bond brickwork supporting walls, roof finish not visible, originally asphalt.
PLAN: A 2-storey compact H-plan with central entrance to each wing leading to central open-well staircase and internal corridors with rooms each side accommodating a maximum of 12 airmen to a room: further staircases at junctions with cross wing which also has service facilities including a utility room. The larger unit (Building 25) housed 84 airmen and 8 NCOs, and the smaller (Building 23) 56 airmen and 8 NCOs. Both provided with basement air-raid shelter for 40 persons, with separate escape exit beyond the building.
EXTERIOR: Steel 10-pane vertical casements to wings, some horizontal units to cross wing set to continuous thin concrete lintel and sill bands. Outer fronts of wings in 2:5:2-bays (1:5:1) to building 23) with central pair of panelled doors, in rendered concrete cheeks to W and brick cheeks to E fronts. Ends of wings plain, but door added S end of W wing in Building 25; returns in 3 and 2 bays with vertical casements. Recessed cross-wing has stair windows each framing horizontal casements to one face, and similar but smaller lights on the reverse front. Walls on slight projecting brick plinth with air vents, and above upper lintel band a 3-brick frieze below simple projecting flat roof edge.
INTERIOR: Original solid string concrete staircases with terrazzo finish, hardwood swept handrail on steel flat standards and 4 rails. Rooms adapted to current commercial office use.
HISTORY: These are well presented examples of a late Expansion Period design, with Art Deco overtones, in which slightly more space per occupant was provided, and the ceilings lowered from 10ft to 9ft (3m to 2.74m); also for the first time a basement air raid shelter incorporated. The two buildings are grouped symmetrically on the axis of the Dining Room and Institute (qv), all set at an angle to the earlier buildings to the S, and parallel with Skimmingdish Lane. They comprise key elements in the development of this uniquely well-preserved and historically important site. It is grouped with the contemporary Institute (qv) and boiler house (qqv) at an angle with and to the N of the earlier buildings. These 1938 type designs, with flat concrete roofs built for protection against incendiary devices, were in a more consciously modern style than earlier Expansion Period designs.
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 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. 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
For further historical details see Building 16 (Officers' Quarters and Mess).
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