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Latitude: 51.9155 / 51°54'55"N
Longitude: -1.1405 / 1°8'25"W
OS Eastings: 459215
OS Northings: 224456
OS Grid: SP592244
Mapcode National: GBR 8X5.SLL
Mapcode Global: VHCX4.53YX
Entry Name: Building No 99 (Main Workshops)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393041
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497529
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)
1714/0/10054 RAF Bicester: Technical Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 99 (Main Workshops)
Workshop for airframe and engine repairs, welders' bay and fabric-workers shop. 1926. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 1788/25. Stretcher bond brickwork, brick stack, asbestos-cement slate roof.
PLAN: A group of 3 linked gable single-storey sheds around a narrow central courtyard with in-filling flat-roofed elements, and enclosed at the outer end, containing various well-lit working areas.
EXTERIOR: All parts are generously fenestrated, with large steel casements set to flush concrete lintels and stooled sills; all three sheds have patent roof glazing to both slopes. The gable ends each have wide doorways, one of these a later roller version, and a pair of plank doors to the narrow courtyard entrance.
INTERIOR: Series of steel trusses on brick piers.
HISTORY: The Technical Site at Bicester, separated from the Domestic Site, still has many original buildings, mostly of 1926 but with others added during successive phases of the 1930s Expansion Period. This is a substantial and little altered complex, strategically placed between the two 'A' type hangars (qv), facing the main avenue bisecting the site, leading to the flying field. It also comprises one of the first permanent designs for Britain's independent air force, and through its key function as workshops for airframe and engine repairs comprises an integral 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).
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