Favourite Places - Bicester Heritage
A home for classic cars and aircraft in oxfordshire
Bicester in Oxfordshire, England, has a rich and diverse history. Until recently, my only knowledge of it’s history was that there was a really good luxury goods outlet on it’s outskirts that has been there a few years. However, more educated people than myself would be aware that the site which became RAF Bicester on the Eastern side of the town first hosted flights in 1911, and became a military base in 1916. It hosted a bomber squadron between the wars, and mainly served as a training base during WW2, although a fighter squadron were also based there. The runway was never paved, so it still consists of neatly trimmed grass. It ceased to be a military base in 1976, although continued to have connections to the military, even being prepared as a hospital to receive large numbers of wounded from Desert Storm, although it’s capacity was fortunately not required.
The buildings on-site mostly date back to the 1930’s, and it has been remarkably preserved. It helps that it remained mothballed for so many years, and after unsuccessful attempts at development was declared a conservation area by the local council. In 2013, a new company took over the site, and there is now a classic vehicle (and aircraft) centre of excellence there, with a growing number of companies dedicated to the restoration, sales and storage of cars of an historical nature. It’s not open to the public other than on special club days or "Sunday Brunch Scrambles" which are organised throughout the year, plus the annual "Flywheel Festival" weekend in the Summer which combines classic car demonstrations and an airshow. Proper stuff.
It's a remarkable place to wander around. The mixture of restored and sympathetically updated buildings and extraordinary cars is quite captivating. I would very much like to live there, but I realise that most days it is another industrial estate, albeit a quite unique one.
I have taken literally hundreds of photos there, some of which I'm very happy with. You'll see them peppered throughout my postings here (and elsewhere). The photos attached to this story have been taken over a period of a couple of years. Bicester Heritage has changed quite a bit over that time, and it will continue to do so. I'll keep going back as often as I can...
Next in this series: er.. dunno. I'll have to think about it...