Image of Imperial War Museums Logo Image of Historic Duxford title

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Aerial photograph of Duxford during the First World War, taken from the west. By permission of the Imperial War Museum, IWM Q 114046

We’ve been looking at some of the material related to the construction of Duxford, and trying to work out the costs associated with building a First World War airfield in today’s prices.

In 1917 it was agreed that Duxford could be built for the princely sum of £90,000. This can be translated into today’s money using the Measuring Worth web site, and it comes out at £3.76 million using the Retail Price Index (RPI), or £20 million using ‘average earnings’ as a guide.

What is perhaps not surprising is that the original estimate was somewhat wide of the mark. In the end it cost around £460,000 to build Duxford. This equates to £19.2 million using the RPI, and over £100 million using average earnings.

However we do the calculation, that’s still over five times as much as the original estimate. And also remember that Duxford was just one of 60 Training Depot Stations built around Britain in the First World War, which is a mind-bogglingly huge expansion, bearing in mind the first aeroplane flew only 15 years before…

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