We never imagined that we would find such a large or well-located place,” he says, “especially since its only a few minutes away from Bicesters other famous attraction, the Shopping Village. After three years, our site was off the list of at-risk sites, and soon Historic England cited us as a national example of constructive conservation. Its something were very proud of.
Most of Bicesters original buildings were built of striking red bricks at a time when the revered architect Sir Edwin Lutyens – who loved such buildings – was a member of the council overseeing such public works. When they studied them, Geoghegan and his team discovered that the buildings were fundamentally solid, although there were early problems with graffiti, broken windows, and fire damage. The new owners have worked systematically to restore the buildings and make some of them modern. Stop by Bicester now, as we did recently, and your impression is of a well-ordered serenity and a bit of the old school.
A tour of the entire site is needed, preferably as a passenger of Geoghegan in his reliable long-base Land Rover or his two-seater Alvis of the 1920s, to appreciate its impressive scale and the size of its potential effect on the future of motoring. Suddenly, its easy to understand Bicester Motions plan to create 2,000 new jobs in the area and help populate the thousands of new homes already planned for the area.
Bicesters most prominent buildings, visible both from the entrance door and from the airfield apron, are four large 1920s hangars built on the edge of the grass Flying Field. These will be conserved more or less as they are, in front of which is a wide perimeter runway called The Radial, “fast driving”. The hangars will be converted internally into event and exhibition spaces with a capacity of up to 2,000 people. In the 1920s, six hangars were planned, but only four were built, so Geoghegan plans two more in the same architectural style, using one as a 344-room hotel.