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Building Nos 146 and 147 (Station Offices and Operation Block)

A Grade II Listed Building in Bicester, Oxfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.9149 / 51°54'53"N

Longitude: -1.1427 / 1°8'33"W

OS Eastings: 459066

OS Northings: 224382

OS Grid: SP590243

Mapcode National: GBR 8X4.ZWV

Mapcode Global: VHCX4.44SD

Entry Name: Building Nos 146 and 147 (Station Offices and Operation Block)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393034

English Heritage Legacy ID: 497533

Location: Launton, Cherwell, Oxfordshire, OX26

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell

Civil Parish: Launton

Built-Up Area: Bicester

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Launton

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text

LAUNTON

SP5924 A 421 (SOUTH-EAST SIDE)
1714/0/10061 RAF Bicester: Technical Site
01-DEC-05 Building Nos 146 and 147 (Station offi
ces and Operation Block)

GV II

Station administrative offices (147) with attached Operations Block. Dated 1926. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 1443/24 (147) and 1161/24 (146). Dark red brickwork in English bond, hipped asbestos-cement slate roofs.

PLAN: The forward office building, in 2 storeys with part basement, is a long rectangular range with slightly brought forward hipped pavilion ends to a central entrance leading to entrance hall, with transverse internal corridor, and taken through with a link passageway, to the separate operations range in one storey, set parallel with the main building across narrow courtyards. The traversed brick wall around the operations block has been removed.

EXTERIOR: Main front in 2+3+2 bays, with steel casements in 2 lights with transom and mullion, to flush concrete lintels with slight stopped chamfer, and stooled sills. The recessed centre has 2/2-panel doors and over-light flanked by casements, and under a verandah with later corrugated asbestos-cement roof to hipped returns carried on 4 square concrete slightly chamfered posts to bases and wide impost heads. Above this a central bulls-eye light flanked by small casements; this section has a flat roof at eaves level. The right return has 3 and the left 2 casements at each floor, and the plain rear has regular close-set windows. To the right of the door is a small ridge stack. All quoins have brick rustication.

A simple low corridor with pitched roof connects to the long hipped operations building, in 10 bays with tall casements, and 2 on each return. There is some later infill between the blocks. Both ranges have exposed rafters to open eaves.

INTERIOR: Retains original joinery including panelled doors, circular aperture to camera obscura. Dog-leg stairs with iron balusters and wreathed handrail.

HISTORY: The Technical Site at Bicester, separated from the Domestic Site, still has many of the original buildings, mostly of 1926 but with others added during successive phases of the 1930's Expansion Period. Sited at the main gate, facing the Guardhouse (qv) across the main avenue, this building fulfilled both a key operational and administrative function - one that lent it a degree of architectural treatment only also afforded to the Guardhouse. It comprises one of the first examples of permanent designs for Britain's independent air force, part of a uniquely important site.

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 Buildings Nos 79 and 137 (Type 'A' Hangars).

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

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