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Buildings Nos 29, 42, 35 and 36 (Type 'E' Barracks Blocks)

A Grade II Listed Building in Caversfield, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9155 / 51°54'55"N

Longitude: -1.146 / 1°8'45"W

OS Eastings: 458835

OS Northings: 224452

OS Grid: SP588244

Mapcode National: GBR 8X4.YXX

Mapcode Global: VHCX4.330X

Entry Name: Buildings Nos 29, 42, 35 and 36 (Type 'E' Barracks Blocks)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393031

English Heritage Legacy ID: 497519

Location: Caversfield, Cherwell, Oxfordshire, OX27

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell

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

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Listing Text


1714/0/10047 RAF Bicester: Domestic Site
01-DEC-05 Buildings Nos 29, 42, 35 and 36 (Type
'E' Barracks Blocks)

Airmens's barracks. 1927 (35, 36) and 1937 (29, 42). By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 640/22, 104/23 and 965/27. Dark red brick in stretcher bond, concrete floors, hipped slate roofs.

PLAN: Dormitory rooms taking maximum 20 airmen on 2 levels each side of central entrance and staircase, with short service block to rear, the whole forming T-plan with short centre arm. The centre section also accommodated 3 NCO's. All buildings now used as offices.

EXTERIOR: Windows mainly timber 12-pane sash, some 8-pane, and some smaller in service block. All blocks in 6+3+6 bays, the windows evenly spaced in the older buildings, but with paired groupings in the later ones. The centre unit has squared turrets brought forward slightly, with separate hipped roofs, flanking a central pair of 3-panel doors under a deep panel, recessed, and with a projecting flat concrete hood, above which is a full width 4-light casement in concrete surrounds. Windows set to flush, chamfered and stopped concrete lintels, and with stooled sills. In building 42, 2 small eaves stacks flank the central bay. Hipped ends formerly with a 12-pane sash at each level, but in most cases now with doors to escape stairs (not to 42). The rear walls also with 8 and 12-pane sash, and the service wing with various sashes, and a door on the N side. Roofs are all slightly swept to the box eaves with deep soffits.

INTERIOR: Central concrete dog-leg staircase with simple steel balustrade and handrail.

HISTORY: These are unusually well-preserved examples of RAF barracks blocks of the inter-war period, retaining 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. These four buildings, the first two aligned in opposition beside the wide Parade Ground area, comprised the first standard design for RAF barracks, upon which successive designs into the 1930s were based. The 'Type E' blocks (Buildings 35 and 36) accommodated 80 airmen and 3 NCOs, the later blocks 96 airmen. It is interesting that the design was so completely retained in 2 pairs, built 15 years apart; the architectural quality is high, as for instance in the use of the swept roof slopes at the eaves. They relate both to the first phase of buildings, and to those of the 1930's to the 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).

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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