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Latitude: 51.9156 / 51°54'56"N
Longitude: -1.1425 / 1°8'33"W
OS Eastings: 459075
OS Northings: 224466
OS Grid: SP590244
Mapcode National: GBR 8X4.ZXW
Mapcode Global: VHCX4.43VT
Entry Name: Building No 87 (Fire Party House)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393036
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497524
Location: Launton, Cherwell, Oxfordshire, OX26
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
SP5924 A 421 (SOUTH-EAST SIDE)
1714/0/10051 RAF Bicester: Technical Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 87 (Fire Party House)
Fire-party garage and rest-room. 1938. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 3344/37. Dark red brick in Flemish bond, asbestos-cement slate roof.
PLAN: A compact T-plan with short transverse rear wing, all one storey, with hipped roofs. The long front range is the fire-tender garage, and the wing contains office and rest-room.
EXTERIOR: The front to the access road (SE) has a broad recessed garage door, with protective concrete blocks set to external paving, and flanked to the right by one window. Windows are wooden sash set to flush lintels and stooled sills; to the left 3, and to the right 3 set high and flanked by deep doors with over-lights. The cross wing has 3 windows to the rear and 2 to each hipped end. There is a small ridge stack near the front hip.
INTERIOR: Parquet floor. Panelled doors where original.
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 1930s Expansion Period. Added during the 1930s Expansion Period, this building resulted from the need to house the duty fire crew away from their original home in the nearby Guardhouse (qv). The architectural treatment is consistent with the 1920's designs, with brickwork properly bonded, including closers to the window and door openings. It is externally unaltered, and forms part of a uniquely important group of buildings at this airfield.
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).
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