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GRAVEN HILL DEPOT

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The site of Graven Hill Depot, an ordnance depot that was used during World War II. This huge depot consists of a complex of sites clustered around two hills - Graven Hill and Arncott Hill - to the south-east of Bicester. On completion in 1943, the depot covered an area of over 12 square miles, with nearly 50 miles of railway track. It was planned as the main supply base for the British Army's operations during the Second World War and became an important supply base for the United States forces in Europe, under Operation Bolero. At its peak in 1944, more than 20,000 people were employed here. The site has continued to function as a supply depot ever since; although its functions have changed over time and some areas have fallen out of operational use. However, numerous storage hangars and much of the original infrastructure remain. It is the outstanding example in the UK of a bulk storage depot built during the Second World War, designed to be fully integrated into rail and road transport networks and is the precursor of the modern commercial distribution depots dotted around the motorway network.

Central Ordnance Depot Bicester is split into two main sites - Graven Hill Depot and Arncott Depot. These two depots are further sub-divided into six distinct functional sites, A, B, C, and F at Arncott, and D and E at Graven Hill; this record is concerned with the latter two sites. Completed in 1943, the depot at Graven Hill was operated by a mixture of soldiers, Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), and civilian staff; military personnel were originally housed in temporary Nissen huts, later to be replaced by permanent barrack blocks - St.David’s Barracks (completed 1958). The complex was served by the Bicester Military Railway, fed from the Oxford to Bletchley railway line. After 1945, COD Bicester remained the premier ordnance depot for the British Army, although since the 1960s, the functions associated with the different parts changed. It is now subject to disposal

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