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Latitude: 51.9151 / 51°54'54"N
Longitude: -1.1404 / 1°8'25"W
OS Eastings: 459220
OS Northings: 224407
OS Grid: SP592244
Mapcode National: GBR 8X5.SLR
Mapcode Global: VHCX4.54Z7
Entry Name: Building No 123 (Lecture Rooms and Armoury)
Listing Date: 1 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393043
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497531
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)
1714/0/10058 RAF Bicester: Technical Site
01-DEC-05 Building No 123 (Lecture Rooms and Arm
Station Armoury with Lecture Rooms. 1926 and cross-wing added 1936. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, to drawing number 1052/24 and 541-3/35. Dark red Flemish bond brickwork, slate roof.
PLAN: A long T-plan 2-storey range containing laboratory lecture rooms, offices, workshop and a library continues as a one-storey flat-roofed unit with the armoury, ammunition testing bays and machine-gun stores; the armoury section in independent rooms with steel doors.
EXTERIOR: The 2-storey range has tall casement windows, with flush concrete lintels and stooled sills, in 7 + 3 bays under hipped roofs to box eaves, with 4 bays on the returned end. The rear is similar, but with one bay having staircase windows at dropped levels. To the front is a length of blast wall, also concrete stairs down to a basement. At the left end are doors to a steel escape stair. At the upper sill level a 3-brick projecting plat-band. Small ridge stack near right-hand end.
The flat-roofed block has garage doors to the outer end, 3 windows to the front, and a series of small lights, plus 2 doors with over-lights to the rear.
INTERIOR: Remodelled in 1980s.
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. The main range was carried out in two stages, the shorter cross wing having been added c1936, but carried out in carefully matched materials and detail. As one of the original buildings it comprises an example of one of the first permanent designs for Britain's independent air force. It is prominently sited, facing the main central avenue that bisects the 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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