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Latitude: 51.9155 / 51°54'55"N
Longitude: -1.1416 / 1°8'29"W
OS Eastings: 459135
OS Northings: 224460
OS Grid: SP591244
Mapcode National: GBR 8X5.S6Z
Mapcode Global: VHCX4.53BW
Entry Name: Building No 90 (Main Stores)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393038
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497526
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)
1714/0/10060 RAF Bicester: Technical Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 90 (Main Stores)
Main station stores. Dated 1926. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 978/25. Stretcher bond brickwork, asbestos slate roofs.
PLAN: A rambling and complex building, all in one storey, with 2 long gabled sheds, linked at the right-hand end by a slightly higher hipped return and enclosing a narrow courtyard; attached to the rear (N) side a shorter group of 3 gabled units. The building was used for general storage of such items as clothing and furniture, and includes raised unloading bays to former railway to the right.
EXTERIOR: The main front has a series of steel casement windows to flush concrete lintels and stooled sills, 2 with louvres, and the two gables to the left return have similar casements, a blocked doorway, and a central plank door to the narrow courtyard. The right return had 3 wide openings on a raised platform, separated by piers with blue bull-nosed engineering bricks; the two outer bays have been filled with brickwork, and the loading platform cut back to the centre bay only. To each side a low plank door, that to the right with date-stone above. At the rear are 4 windows, and approx 4m run of the roof is felted only, without slates. The gabled ranges have wide doorways at each end, and a plain N front. The long roof slopes to the main range have continuous patent glazing.
INTERIOR: Plain internal spaces, with roof structure in steel trusses on interior brick piers; half-glazed sliding doors to workshops; panelled doors to offices.
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. This building is prominently sited on the main axial route that bisects the technical site and leads to the hangars and flying field. It is located opposite the MT sheds (qv), and as one of first phase of buildings on this uniquely important site comprises an unusually unaltered example of one of the first permanent designs for Britain's independent air force.
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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