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Raf Bicester

Hob Uid: 1335609
Location :
Oxfordshire
Cherwell
Caversfield, Launton, Stratton Audley
Grid Ref : SP5963724520
Summary : A well preserved military airfield with multiple phases of use. Bicester Airfield first opened in late 1917 as a Royal Flying Corps training station and was one of the permanent RAF stations with substantial buildings and a grass airfield. The first combat units of World War II were Blenheim-equipped Nos 104 and 108 Squadrons, later merging to form No 13 OTU. Bicester closed as an active station in March 1976, part being taken over by the Army. The airfield is now the RAF Gliding Centre and the domestic site (located to the west of the A421) is currently used by the Ministry of Defence as the headquarters of the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency. The hangars and other specialised buildings are located at the technical site between the flying field the A421. Bicester is special because it retains a large number of buildings and structures, not only from the expansion period, but from the early expansion period of 1925-1928. These buildings and structures, amongst others, include two Type A Aeroplane Sheds, four Type E Barrack Blocks, a parachute store, the station armoury, a decontamination centre, the station sick quarters, and a watch office with tower. 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. It retains, better than any other military airbase in Britain, the layout and fabric relating to both pre-1930 military aviation and the development of Britain's strategic bomber force in the period up to 1939. The grass flying field still survives, bounded by a group of bomb stores built in 1938-9 and airfield defences built in the early stages of the Second World War. Please see (SP 52 SE 64) to (SP 52 SE 121), (SP 62 SW 27) and (SP 52 SE 125) to (SP 52 SE 135) for more details of the various features of RAF Bicester. Sections of the airfield have been Scheduled.
More information : Bicester Airfield first opened in late 1917 and was one of the permanent RAF stations with substantial buildings and a grass airfield. The first combat units of World War II were Blenheim-equipped Nos 104 and 108 Squadrons, later merging to form No 13 OTU. Bicester closed as an active station in March 1976, part being taken over by the Army. The airfield is now the RAF Gliding Centre and the domestic site is currently used by the Ministry of Defence as the headquarters of the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency. Bicester is special because it retains a large number of buildings and structures, not only from the expansion period, but from the early expansion period of 1925-1928. These buildings and structures, amongst others, include two Type A Aeroplane Sheds, four Type E Barrack Blocks, a parachute store, the station armoury, a decontamination centre, the station sick quarters, and a watch office with tower. 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. It retains, better than any other military airbase in Britain, the layout and fabric relating to both pre-1930 military aviation and the development of Britain's strategic bomber force in the period up to 1939. The grass flying field still survives, bounded by a group of bomb stores built in 1938-9 and airfield defences built in the early stages of the Second World War. (1)

Bicester Airfield, Oxfordshire, SP 598 245. In 1944 the airfield was used by 2 Group Operational Training Group of Fighter Command. At that point it was equipped with a grass landing surface, two type "A" hangars and 2 type "C" hangars. There was temporary accommodation for the personnel, who in December 1944 numbered 1811 men and 600 women. (2)

The Defence of Britain database lists RAF Biscester as a WW2 airfield, at Biscester, Oxfordshire, SP 598 245. The condition of the airfield was given as unknown. The Defence of Britain recorder was Paul Francis. (3)

A report by the English Heritage Thematic Listing Programme produced in May 2003 stressed the good state of preservation at Bicester: "Over 90% of fabric associated with bomber base opened survives, with technical and domestic buildings representative of both inter war expansion periods, all in externally complete state of preservation with doors and windows intact". The airfield features "unique survival of grass airfield characteristic of Bomber Command until WWII with perimeter track and some hardstandings added during the war". It recommends that a number of features be listed. (4)

The OS maps of the area show the flying field to the west; the technical site (immediately visible as such because of the large aircraft hangars) lies to the west of this and east of the A421/ Buckingham Road. The domestic site is to the west of the road and extends off in a north westerly direction. (5-6)

In addition to the listing of hangars, sections of the airfield have now been Scheduled (2006). The Scheduling comprises 16 constraint areas and includes a southern group of bomb stores and airfield defences such as mushroom pillboxes, hexagonal pillboxes and defended air raid shelters. The scheduling describes the former RAF Bicester as " the best preserved of the bomber bases constructed as the principal arm of Sir Hugh Trenchards's expansion of the RAF from 1939...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 in the period up to 1939...the remains included in the scheduling are, along with the listed hangars and other listed buildings., the key structures within this military landscape." (7)

Details of the airfield including site plans and photographs can be found in this source: The Military Airfields of Britain; Northern Home Counties. (8)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : World War 2 Airfields
Source details :
Page(s) : 16
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Source Number : 2
Source : Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945
Source details :
Page(s) : 22
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Plates :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Migrated Defence of Britain Project database record originally compiled from various sources
Source details : The two databases developed by the Project can be searched on-line through the Archaeology Data Service at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/specColl/dob/index.cfm
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Source Number : 4
Source : English Heritage field survey reports
Source details : English Heritage Thematic Listing Programme: May 2003, "Survey of Military Aviation Sites and Structures", unpaged
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 5
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10000, 1982
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 6
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 1968
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 28-Feb-06
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 8
Source : THE MILITARY HISTORY OF AIRFIELDS OF BRITAIN; NORTHERN HOME COUNTIES
Source details :
Page(s) : 51-55
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Closed in 1976
Monument End Date : 1976
Monument Start Date : 1976
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : First World War
Display Date : Opened in 1917
Monument End Date : 1917
Monument Start Date : 1917
Monument Type : Airfield, Military Airfield
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Airfield, Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 104631
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Defence of Britain Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0003875
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 30907
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : DoB Anti Invasion Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0003875
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : 225
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SP 52 SE 50
External Cross Reference Notes :

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Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, THE DEFENCE OF BRITAIN PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-04-01
End Date : 2002-03-01
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14