Bicester Heritage has been awarded a £25,000 grant to restore a WW2 watch tower on its site.

The building, known as ‘The Watch Office’, is located at the heart of the the former RAF Bicester aerodrome and stands as an active monument to the location’s rich aviation history.

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The fund comes from Historic England as part of its joint venture with Bicester Heritage to help it preserve the surviving defensive structures of RAF Bicester.

A Grade II Listed building, the watch tower is one of just three surviving brick-built RAF watch towers in the UK..

The grant from Historic England will help fund repairs to the building's concrete roof structure, brickwork, coping stones and concrete sills.

Bicester Advertiser: Watch Office at Bicester Heritage

Daniel Geoghegan, CEO of Bicester Motion said: “The Watch Office is not only an iconic emblem of pre-war RAF stations offering an unparalleled vantage point across the airfield, but also a rare survivor.

“The support and professionalism of Historic England has contributed significantly to success in previous projects and we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with them once again in order to breathe life back into this fabulous, landmark building.”

At the beginning of WW2, the duty pilot would be stationed in the tower logging aviation activity as aircraft flew from the grass airstrips in front of the building.

As the skies grew busier, it became necessary to increase the number of air traffic or operations personnel in the building.

The watch tower has strong art deco characteristics, notably in the vast ground floor window which overlooks the airfield.

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Independent Cherwell councillor John Broad supports the restoration plan and welcomes the grant.

He said: “I suspect the watch tower will be restored as a historic building and perhaps have some museum artefacts installed to show how it and the site was used at the start of the RAF.

Bicester Advertiser: The WW2 building is one of three left in the UK

“This means it is probably not going to be a building used for a business and so the grant is very suitable and needs to be encouraged. There are very few, if any, watch towers left in the UK and this one will make a fine statement of how the site was operated in those early days of flight."

The councillor has some criticisms with certain elements of Bicester Motion's masterplan such as the proposal to build a track within the airfield perimeter, but praises the company's preservation efforts.

He added: "They must be praised for the amazing work they have carried out to restore the outside of the buildings to retain the history of the site layout whilst providing the insides for all those companies who have an interest in the restoration of historic machines."

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