Heritage group sounds last post over airfield

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A group dedicated to creating a museum and education centre at RAF Bicester honouring the memories of Bomber Command servicemen has shelved its plans.

The announcement came this week from Bomber Command Heritage (BCH) following the recent sale of the RAF Bicester airfield site to a rival bidder.

Campaigners battled for eight years to see their plans brought to life, but said publicity restrictions imposed by site owners the MoD had crippled their ability to raise vital funds for the bid.

Discussions had been held with the successful bidder over possible access to the airfield, but BCH has now decided to call time on its campaign.

BCH chairman Dean Overton said: “We would like to thank everybody so much for the help and support over the years.

“We are really proud of the excellent team that we were able to bring together for our RAF Bicester bid which included Liam O’Connor Architects, strategic partners Cherwell, Oxford, and Bicester councils, and many other highly skilled individuals, organisations, and of course the BCH volunteers and people of Bicester.

“As the last intact RAF bomber station with a rich history, Bicester was such a unique site and the last viable opportunity to do finally something on a befitting scale for the much-neglected subject of RAF Bomber Command and the British and Commonwealth effort and sacrifice, including the true costs and consequences of such warfare.”

He said the site would have been linked to the new Bomber Command Memorial in London, and would have been a tourist attraction and training facility with a time-capsule atmosphere.

He added: “It is just unfortunate that for some reason the MoD was blinkered to this heritage, and seemingly just went for maximum receipts in our opinion, having first made sure that BCH was unable to campaign properly by denying access to publicity from day one back in 2005, and the full benefits that the media and high-net-worth donors could bring if we could have accessed such publicity.”

Mr Overton said the group had to decline offers from the national press to run fundraising appeals due to the restrictions.

He added: “As an organisation working purely for the benefit of the public, BCH was the only bidder who relied on the resources that the media and general public could contribute, so this was a critical handicap.”

BCH said it will focus on other goals, as well as keeping a watching brief on the preservation of the site, and campaigning to prevent development around the airfield boundary.