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Duxford’s origins

Duxford from the south east. By permission of the Imperial War Museum, IWM Q 114047

This photograph of Duxford was taken from the east, near where the M11 motorway is now. It shows the airfield soon after it was built. Many of these buildings survive today.

Duxford was built to a standard layout. Buildings were planned within two main groups: the technical group, and the domestic group. At Duxford these sets of buildings were separated by the Royston to Newmarket road.

The domestic buildings were on the north side of the road. They provided accommodation for some 850 men and women. Buildings included a hostel for the airwomen of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF), and messes and quarters for officers, sergeants and airmen. The photograph below shows a mix of the different sorts of personnel stationed here!

Members of the Royal Air Force and Women's Royal Air Force at Duxford, at the end of the First World War. By permission of the Imperial War Museum. IWM HU 40579

The technical group of buildings was on the south of the road. These structures housed all of the services needed to keep the station running, the repair shops, aircraft sheds (hangars) and training buildings. Below, you can Duxford band in 1918, posing in front of one of the hangar doors.

The Duxford band, 1918. By permission of the Imperial War Museum. IWM Q 096087

Several temporary hangars, made of wood and canvas, were also constructed in 1918. They were known as Bessonneau, or Type H hangars. They housed many of the aircraft based here.

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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.

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