Airmen's Institute and recreation centre, with dining room. c1926 design, built 1930. By the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings. Brick with gabled slate roofs and brick stacks.
PLAN: Rectangular main block, with dining room, card, writing and games rooms, the kitchen and ancillary rooms linked to the rear.
EXTERIOR: 2 storeys. Gauged brick flat arches over all window openings, replacement windows to front and steel-framed windows to rear. Front has 3-window outer wings, the gable ends of which are expressed as broken pediments and the ground floors with panelled double doors with overlights set in rendered architraves with bracketed flat hoods. The central 8-window range has two inserted ground-floor doorways, the second bays in being heightened to break the eaves line with small hipped roofs. 4-window return elevations. The rear service ranges with various casements at both levels.
INTERIOR: Little original detail survives later remodelling; dog leg stairs.
Reason for Listing
Legacy Record – This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
HISTORY: This institute building, constructed in 1930 to designs established during the post-1923 expansion of the RAF, was one of the principal barracks buildings at this internationally renowned historic fighter base, complementing the Officers' Mess which lay across the main road that passes through the site.
Biggin Hill acquired a reputation as the most famous fighter station in the world, primarily through its associations with the Battle of Britain, the first time in history that a nation had retained its freedom and independence through air power. It was developed as a key fighter station in the inter-war period, playing a critical role in the development of the air defence system - based on radar - that played a critical role in the Second World War. Of all the sites which became involved in The Battle of Britain, none have greater resonance in the popular imagination than those of the sector airfields within these Groups which bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe onslaught and, in Churchill's words, 'on whose organisation and combination the whole fighting power of our Air Force at this moment depended'. It was 11 Group, commanded by Air Vice Marshall Keith Park from his underground headquarters at RAF Uxbridge, which occupied the front line in this battle, with its 'nerve centre' sector stations at Northolt, North Weald, Biggin Hill, Tangmere, Debden and Hornchurch taking some of the most sustained attacks of the battle, especially between 24 August and 6 September when these airfields and later aircraft factories became the Luftwaffe's prime targets.
For further details of the history of the site, see advice and description for Station Headquarters.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.