At the height of World War Two, the massive Royal Air Force base at Bicester in Oxfordshire was a hub of activity around the clock.
AThe base at Bicester was principally used as a maintenance and training centre since its establishment in 1919,
Operation until the mid-Fifties, RAF Bicester remained active in several backup roles both for the RAF and the USAF, particularly during the First Gulf War.
The base gradually moved out of service, and its prime 120 acres of land seemed destined to become a massive house construction project. The base, however, fell under the jurisdiction of Cherwell District Council. The council were adamant that the peace and tranquillity of their beautiful Oxfordshire countryside would not be ruined by yet another massive housing project.
In the less than ten years that the Bicester Heritage Business Park has been active, it has fulfilled its owner's ambitions to become a hub of the UK classic car restoration industry with enthousiasts flocking to its now refurbished and restored workshops and hangars.
Apart from its obvious attractions for classic car lovers, the former RAF base is also a pleasant place to spend a weekend, with tree-lined avenues, grassy fields, and picturesque red brick buildings.
In 2008 the new operators of Bicester Heritage received recognition for their efforts and considerable investments rescuing the site by being added to the 'At Risk Register by the Historic England' movement list. Previously the site had been classified as the most 'at at risk' of all former UK Defence sites.
Almost fifteen years later, Bicester Heritage has once again become a beehive of activity, this time for the classic car restoration industry covering the major population centres in the south of England with visitors flocking to it from all over the UK and Western Europe.
Bicester Heritage now is the home of more than forty companies specialising in either the sale, service or restoration of classic cars, as well as providing storage facilities for more than 300 classic cars.
Storage faciliies are also on offer in the ideal setting of a former bomber hanger. The hanger provides perfect conditions for storing cars with its level concrete floors, high ceilings and lots of natural light.
Owners can visit their vehicles on demand and even take advantage of the small test track restored by the Heritage operators from former sections of tarmac used by trainee bomber pilots to taxi their aircraft to the take-off point.
While the Bicester Heritage Centre is open midweek to visitors by appointment only, with organised tours being a big favourite among classic car enthousiasts, the high points are the "Sunday Scramble" open days organised several times annually.
Also becoming a major favourite is the annual "Flywheel" car-and-air show, attended by thousands, most of them arriving in their classic cars to be viewed by an appreciative following.
The auction was very well attended and also looks like becoming an annual feature at Bicester Heritage, further enhancing the site's status as the place for classic cars lovers to see and be seen in a traditional British setting.
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