New group formed to save RAF Bicester site

Prototype Handley Page Halifax bomber at RAF Bicester in October 1939
Prototype Handley Page Halifax bomber at RAF Bicester in October 1939

A NEW partnership to explore the future of RAF Bicester is to be formed following a key vote on Monday night.

Members of the Cherwell District Council (CDC) executive voted to form a partnership with Bomber Command Heritage (BCH), which has campaigned for the creation of a museum and education centre at the airfield.

Leader of Cherwell District Council, councillor Barry Wood, said: “They chose RAF Bicester because it’s the last remaining bomber green-grass site left, and it’s the context of its setting that potentially makes it so valuable to Bomber Command Heritage.”

Mr Wood said the council now knew the MoD had cleared its final hurdles regarding the Critchel Down Rules, which give former owners first refusal on land requisitioned by the government.

But he warned the council: “There’s a lot of work to be done to help BCH if it is to achieve its ambitions for the site.”

He added: “We’ll bite off a substantial piece of responsibility. But I think if the collective ambitions for RAF Bicester are ever going to be achieved, we can’t stand idly by and hope for luck and a fair wind.”

RAF Bicester has been called, ‘the quintessential airfield of its age’ by English Heritage. BCH believes it is one of only five grass aerodromes left in the UK.

Martin Jones, secretary of BCH, said: “We’re delighted that CDC has taken this step to enter into a strategic partnership.

“We have done a lot of work to create a viable financial model.

“The main objective is to help us access sources of funding and council resources that will help take us through to the next stage.”

Bomber Command Heritage says the centre would pay tribute to the sacrifices of British and Commonwealth airmen.

The group is becoming an incorporated charity, and is setting up a ‘fighting fund’ to pursue its ambitions for RAF Bicester.

Enquiries can be emailed to BCH will also occupy a unit in Crown Walk throughout July.