Steel window refurbishment helps preserve historic RAF Bicester
RAF Bicester was a major base for Bomber Command during the Second World War and served as a military airfield from as early as 1916. Largely intact, the well-preserved site is now home to Bicester Heritage, the UK’s first centre for historic motoring and aviation, and its redbrick buildings are being restored and updated with help from Steel Window Association member, The Cotswold Casement Company.
Working alongside the main contractor, The Cotswold Casement Company has, to date, authentically refurbished the windows in seven buildings, ranging from the old armoury to the motor transport and toilet blocks. Throughout, the emphasis has been on preserving as much of the original fabric of the pre war windows as possible.
Each of the windows was carefully removed and the resulting openings temporary glazed to allow the buildings to be used while the refurbishment of the windows was undertaken. The old frames were meticulously numbered and then taken to the company’s works where they were photographed to establish a record of each window’s condition at the time of removal. The windows were then deglazed and any fittings removed.
The frames were shot-blasted to strip all the old paintwork and any surface rust and then inspected to identify the works required. The team at The Cotswold Casement Company complete all necessary repairs. These included the replacement of sections that were too corroded to be saved using standard metal window (SMW) sections. Some frames needed to be straightened while worn or damaged hinges were replaced. Similarly, handles and other fittings were checked, overhauled or replaced with specially cast replicas.
Once overhauled, each of the windows was Korro primed to stop any further deterioration and then returned to site for reinstallation. Many of the windows were installed directly back into brick but some were into replacement wooden subframes made by The Cotswold Casement Company. Rather than using modern silicone beads, the new clear 4mm glass was puttied in as would have been done originally. To achieve a traditional look all the frames were hand painted by the contractor using paint colours appropriate to the period.