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Building No 89 (Guard and Fire Party House)

A Grade II Listed Building in Bicester, Oxfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.9153 / 51°54'54"N

Longitude: -1.1428 / 1°8'34"W

OS Eastings: 459056

OS Northings: 224427

OS Grid: SP590244

Mapcode National: GBR 8X4.ZVF

Mapcode Global: VHCX4.44Q3

Entry Name: Building No 89 (Guard and Fire Party House)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393037

English Heritage Legacy ID: 497525

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)
1714/0/10052 RAF Bicester: Technical Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 89 (Guard and Fire Party H
ouse)

GV II

Guardhouse with exercise yard and accommodation for fire party. Dated 1926. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 959/25. Dark brick in Flemish bond, but some stretcher bond, slate gambrel roof, some flat concrete extensions, brick stack.

PLAN: A long rectangular building containing guardhouse and office, with cells; roof sweeps down over non-enclosed verandah to the front, and at the rear is a walled exercise yard.

EXTERIOR: Verandah on four square chamfered concrete posts to stone pads and with broad impost blocks set to shallow concrete platform; sloping soffit is boarded. Steel casements set to flush chamfered concrete lintels and stooled sills, one doorway with second blocked, and in flat-roofed bay at each end a further plank door with over-light. Large double casements to rear. Centred over the verandah at the ridge a square bell-turret in timber with clad skirt, small metal cupola. The walled rear enclosure in stretcher bond, rising to parapet at mains eaves level. Metal vents to rear cells.

INTERIOR: Retains original joinery. Wooden cell doors with original fittings.

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. As part of the first phase of buildings on this uniquely important site, this comprises one of the first permanent designs for Britain's independent air force. It is a good example of the larger version of guardhouse of its period, thought to be the only extant example (Francis, 1996, 23). It is also prominently sited at the main gate, facing the Station Offices (qv) across the main axial route that bisects the technical site and leads to the hangars and flying field.

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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