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GUARDS’ DEPOT - CATERHAM    1875 - 1958

1875              The site was purchased in 1875 under the authority of War Office letter, Bath August 1875,  Caterham, 23/11.

The original barracks, consisting of four two-storey Barrack Blocks, (York,  Wellington. Cambridge and Albemarle), Cook-house, Hospital, Guard-room, Officers’ Mess and Quarters, “A” Block Married Quarters, three drill sheds. A.S.C. Block with school over, Quartermaster’s Quarters, Sergeants Mess and Canteen, Stores, Offices, Workshops, Coal-yards, latrines and out-buildings

1877               were completed on 10th November 1877 (by Messers Higgs and Hill) at a cost of £46,273.

The Commanding Officer’s Quarter and Stable were old buildings situated outside the Barrack enclosure. The stable was demolished later (1889-1900) and the CO’s Quarter  became Nursing Sister’s Quarter and finally the Medical Officer’s Quarters

1882              In 1882 one more two-storey Barrack Block, (Woodford, later changed to Albemarle) was built

1885              and in 1885 a sixth two-storey Barrack Block was added. (Victoria, later changed to Codrington.)

Other additions were made in 1899 (see below).

1887             The Recreation Establishment (now Quartermaster’s Stores) was built in 1887.

1885-86        The Chapel was erected in 1885-1886 from Private funds by the Brigade of Guards. The War Office providing the site and contributing £3,000 towards the cost.

1889                          In 1889 the following additions were made:- four extra cells to the Guard room, mobilisation stores, and wagon shed, gun shed and ammunition store. Of these all except the cells have been re-appropriated.

1893                          One block of six Married Quarters (“B” Block) with laundry and two blocks of two warrant officers’ quarters (“E” & “F” Block) were completed in 1893.

1896                          A wing was added to the Officers mess

1898-1900                 In 1898 a new Cook-house was erected between “Cambridge” and “Albemarle” block to replace the original Cook-house now converted to a Bath house (No, 1 Bath-house.), A number of corrugated sheet iron huts were erected as follows:- 8 in 1898, 5 during 1899 and 1900, making a total of 13. Seven of these have been removed, those remaining being Nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, 12 and 13 appropriated as follows 1, 2, 6, & 12 Barrack Huts No. 4 Church Room, No 13 Drying Hut.

1899                          The three front Barrack Blocks, then called York, Cambridge and Woodford, were raised to three-storey in 1899 and the other three, then “Wellington”, “Albemarle” and “Victoria” in 1900. At this time, 11th July 1899, “B” Latrine (15 seats and 18 urinals) were erected, but these were enlarged later.

1901                          The Gymnasium (now Gym No. 2) was built in 1901 and extended by half its length in 1928.

                                  Skittle alley built 1877(?) since converted to Armourers’ shop.

1904                          “C” Block (14 Married Quarters) was built in 1904, this structure and the Gymnasium, being outside original W.D. boundary, involved the purchase of additional land. Extending about 155 yards to the North and from West to East between Green Lane and Coulsdon Road, and included the structure in the South-east corner now known as “D” Block Married Quarters.  In 1904 an addition was made to the Quartermaster’s Quarter and a new R.E. store and carpenters’ shop was erected.

                                  A thirty yards range was constructed in 1904 on the site of the Soldier’s gardens outside barracks, a second range was added in 1925 together with W.C. accommodation.

1905                          In 1905 on the newly acquired land two Barrack Blocks were built, on double Company (“Codrington”, now re-named “Victoria”) and one single company block (“Roberts” now “Woodford”) also a Cook-house and Bath-house combined, “C” Latrine and cleaning shed. since re-appropriated

1905                          Regimental Institute built in 1905, extended in 1926, 1928, 1929 & 1930. During the European War many changes were made, chiefly of an emergency or temporary nature. Very little of this remains except two huts (situated beyond the 1901 boundary). These have been retained for use as musketry huts, and another war-time hut which was re-erected in its present position (by Pioneer Labour) in 1923 as a sports pavilion.

1915-16                     During1915-1916 a large corrugated iron building with Clock Tower attached, was erected from private funds for use as a cinema.

1922                          This was purchased by the War Office in 1922 and in 1926 it was taken down and removed from its original site (N.W. corner of Cricket Ground) and re-erected on its present site North of Mobilisation Stores, on re-erection it was reduced in length by 30 feet to 40 feet, while the Clock Tower was re-built on its present site near “B” Latrine. The work was carried out by military labour. A fire proof projector house was built in 1926.

1923                          In 1923 the W.D. boundary was further extended to the North as far as the Grove, by the purchase of the site known as “tin town”. The Commandant’s house was completed in 1900, (some have since been made), In 1923 sanitary annexes were ~tided to “B” Block Married Quarters. and also to “E” & “F” Blocks W.O’s Quarters in 1924

1924                          The Wagon shed (built 1889) was re-appropriated as drill shed No 6 (now drill shed No. 8) in October 1924.

1925                          The Sergeants’ Mess and Trained Soldiers’ Canteen were remodelled in 1925.

1926                          The Recruits’ Restaurant, built 1905, was extended in 1926, while further alterations and extensions were made in 1928 and again in 1929.

1930                          Outside servery added in 1930.

                                  Until 1927-1928 the barracks had been lit by gas, but in 1926 the internal wiring for Electric Lighting was carried out, the external and other work being finally completed by 22nd March 1928. Certain Gas mains were retained for the supply for cooking and sterilising in the Hospital and Regimental Institutes. Other gas cookers were supplied by the Gas Company’s mains direct, under authority.

1927                          In 1927 latrines were provided for the Children’s school.

The first permanent Dining room was completed in 1927 preliminary to the general replacement of dining huts. No. 2 Dining room was added in 1928 and the whole scheme of Cook-house, Boiler-house, Bread and Meat stores and six dining rooms with wash-ups was completed in 1928.

During 1927 owing to the prevalence of diphtheria certain precautions and experiments were carried out and in 1928 November part of the Depot moved to Warley.

1928                          Early in 1928 the whole Depot moved to Canterbury, and the drainage system was tested and overhauled and found to be generally in good order. No. 2 coal-yard was constructed in 1928.

1929                          In 1929 Drill sheds Nos. 4, 5, 6 & 7 were erected and No 6 drill shed became No. 6. Reconstruction of guard house, with provision for new Orderly room and Court martial room was completed in 1929. The fire engine house was demolished and the straw store re-appropriated as fire appliance house. Re-construction and extension of Officer’s mess and Quarters was completed 1929. Bath-houses Nos. 2 & 3 were re-constructed 1929. No* 3 Bath-house having previously included Bread and Meat Stores (originally Cook-house)

 In 1929 the first floor of mobilisation block was connected to educational rooms with laundry, and boiler house and central heating. The re-construction of “A” Block Married Quarters (reduced from 19 to 14 quarters) including internal WCs, baths and hot water supply was completed 1929. The Depot returned from Canterbury in September 1929. On medical recommendation the accommodation of N.C.Os and men was revised by re-appropriation, the large blocks being reduced from 12 N.C.Os and 150 men to 6 N.C.Os and 156 men. The men’s accommodation in the other blocks was un-altered, but the Company stores were re-appropriated as N.C.O’s rooms, making a revised accommodation of 6 & 4 N.C.O.s respectively, instead of 4 & 2 as previously. The accommodation thus lost was replaced by that in the new barrack block.

1931                          During 1931 the accommodation in huts 1, 2, 6 & 12 was reduced as follows: - Hut No. 1, 1 N.C.O. 20 men. Hut 2, 6 & 12, 1 N.C.O. 22 men. Cleaning sheds were re-appropriated for use as follows, Tailors and shoemakers shops, September 1939.

1929                          In 1929 owing to changes in accommodation and the re-distribution of Regiments, the names of Barrack Blocks were changed as follows:- “Albemarle” changed to “Edward” “Woodford” changed to “Albemarle”, “Victoria” changed to “Codrington”, “Codrington” changed to “Victoria”, “Roberts” changed to “Woodford”. New Barrack Block named “Roberts”.

1930                          A garage to accommodate ambulance and 1 lorry was built during 1930.

1931                          During 1931 an extension was made to the Trained Soldiers’ Institute. “D” Block Married Quarters was re-constructed to form two flats and brought up to synopsis scale.

 “B” Block Married Quarters was brought up to scale by laying on hot water to baths and sinks. “C” Block Married Quarters were improved by provision of Baths, hot water etc. A new and larger gymnasium was built including a dressing room to serve both Gyms, with complete central heating for both. Night urinals were provided in huts 1 2, 6 & 12.

Salvage store, (near No. 2 coal yard, was converted for the reception and storage of bones etc. A temporary extension was made to No. 1 coal yard pending authority and funds to provide a permanent extension.


1898                          In 1898 the North wing was added.

1900                          In 1900 three isolation wards together with separate administrative block were erected on site of late CO’s stable which was demolished. This included alteration and extension of the boundary wall.

1925                          In 1925 two small additions were made to disinfector house, and a separate coal yard was built. Various small additions were 1929                         and re-appropriations were made in the interim but in 1929  the hospital was changed by re-appropriation and reconstruction,                                    to Reception Station, including a Dental Centre and accommodation for R.A.M.C. personnel etc. In this re-­appropriation the                                      proposal to construct the late medical inspection hut into a Welfare centre was not approved but permission was granted to                                     use the hut as such, if not required for other purposes.

1929                          During the year the Recruits Restaurant was enlarged and a new kitchen built.

1931                          A new Gymnasium now known as No. I was built and the existing one known as No. 1 was enlarged. The Museum was opened in Nod Hut on the Cricket Field.

1932                          A Swimming Bath was installed in the Cinema Pavilion. The length of the Bath is 75 feet; breadth 36 feet; with a waterline depth of 3 feet at the shallow end and 7 feet at the deep end. A sectional floor made partly from the old flooring, will be used to cover the bath during the winter, so that the Pavilion may be available for entertainments, boxing, etc. as before.

The Museum was moved to Room 2 Cambridge Block.

1933                          Hurst Lodge, 259 Coulsdon Road, was purchased by the W,D. for Senior Chaplains quarters and classified as Group iv Officers Quarters and renamed St Michaels House. This was reclassified as a Group iii Quarter in 1938.

1934                          A Children’s Playground was provided at the East end of the Sports Ground with Coaster Slide, Plank Swings and a 3 Swing Frame.

1935                          Central Heating was installed in the Reception Station. A Children’s School with an external iron staircase was provided. Provision of water mains for spraying the Running Track on the Sports Ground.

1936                          Extension of No.1 Coal Yard and provision of extra Coal Store. Modern Steam Cooking Apparatus was installed in No.1 Cookhouse.

1937                          Fish Frying apparatus was provided in No.1 Cookhouse. Improvements were made to “C” Block Married Quarters by erecting combined bathroom and W.C. annexes.

1938                          Electric water heaters were provided in barrack room ablutions. The old Magazine was converted to a Gas Chamber for Chemical Warfare demonstrations. A sanitary annexe was erected at the Church of England Chapel. “Albermarle” Block was renamed “Monck” Block.

1939                          Part of the Jolliffe Field was purchased by the W.D. for a recreation ground. Area 6 acres. A strained wire fence was fixed around the site and the ground was levelled and returfed by troop and contract labour for two football and one cricket pitches. Three groups of Militia Hutting were erected U the East end of the Sports Ground with 17 barrack rooms complete with sanitary and ablution services for 340 men. This was completed in 1940. The erection of an Infantry Training Camp was commenced on requisitioned land outside barracks and on spare sites in barracks for 6 companies complete with two Regimental Institutes each for a thousand men, three combined Cookhouses and Dining Rooms each for six hundred men, three Gymnasiums, one Gas Defence Centre, two first aid and M.I. rooms and one Dental Centre for accommodation of approximately 2000 men. Two additional Miniature and 30 yards ranges were also added. The work was completed in 1941.

1940                          8 Palestine Huts were erected in the Camp area as extra accommodation for 160 men. Two thirds of “Roberts” Block, two Musketry Huts and two huts on the Soccer Field were destroyed by enemy action on the 18th August.

Drill Shed No.1 destroyed and “A”. Block Married Quarters and the Sergeants’ Mess damaged by enemy action on the 1st September. Part of “Victoria” Block, ‘Nursing Sisters Quarters’, Dining Room No. 6, Serveries, No. 1 and 2 destroyed, and Dining Rooms No. 1 and 2 with Wash-ups badly damaged by enemy action on the 11th September. Two Dining huts and a Preparation hut were erected as an addition to No.1 Cookhouse.

1941                         Goodenough Lines were added to the Camp comprising 14 living huts with Sanitary and Ablution huts for app: 300 men. A large Drill Shed was erected behind the Grove Lines.

1942                         A Drill Shed was erected with salvaged material from “Roberts” Block near the Jollife Gymnasium.

1947                          All the huts on the Cricket Field were demolished and removed, the ground reinstated and a Cricket Pavilion erected from salvaged material at the South-east corner. “Woodford” Block was renamed “Alexander” Block.

1948                          The Clock Tower was demolished

1950-51                     Gym.on hockey field taken down owing to settlement of foundations.

1952                          Construction or new ration store at No. 1 Cook-house. Construction of N.A.A.F.I. Shop in Education Block. Removal of Drill Shed from Grove Lines to Site opposite “Alexander” Block and re-erected as new MT. Vehicle Shed. Installation of new Plate Washing Machine. New roof to Swimming Bath with perspex roof lights.

 1953.                        Entrance gates re-erected with new lanterns, part by R.E. and part by Unit.

1953-4                       Rebuilding of “Victoria” Block with complete modernisation and central heating. Erection of 20 Married Soldiers Quarters on Moxham’s Field known as Thomas Avenue. Erection of 18

Married Officers’ Quarters on Ninehams Estate known as Reid Avenue, Ninehams and Saxons Lane.

1955                          Demolition of infantry Training Camp, known as Coulsdon Camp, built 1940-41. Fittings recovered and used to improve accommodation in Guards’ Depot. Boundary Fences erected in concrete chain link. New roof to No.1 Boiler house with independent flues to existing boiler.

                                   To Swimming Bath, white tiling to Dressing Room and replacement of corrugated iron walls by brick. Re-roofing of Guard’s Chapel. Improvements to Sergeants’ Mess, new entrance and doors, etc. Improvements to Recruits, Institute, new lighting and roller shutters to counters. R.E. Establishment moved from Coulsdon Camp to Militia Hut at East end of Sports Ground.

1956                          (Spring) Interior decoration of most buildings except ground floor of S.A.S. blocks. ‘Lyle’ spider renamed “Marlborough” and used as extra accommodation for 14 Con. Grenadier Guards. Weapon Training Unit occupied ‘Lindson’s” Spider. Old Air Raid Shelters “A” block filled and levelled and Degassing Ground constructed,

1956                          May 7, Depot flats purchased by War Office.

1956                          Sept. 17. Four Public Telephone Boxes installed near Q.M. Office. Encroachment held by  G.P.O. Depot no longer responsible for clearing cash boxes.

1956                          Sept. Conversion and modernisation to “A” block.

1957                          Mar. 30. Ditto completed.

1956                          Recruits’ Billiard room (2 tables removed; one to store and one to Receiving room) converted for use as R.C. chapel.

 1957                         Solid fuel ranges in No.1 Cook-house replaced by modern gas ranges.

1957                          March 1st Conversion and mod. Of ”B” block commenced. Completed Sept. 5.  Apr. 1st Ditto “D” block.

1957                          Mar. Modernisation of Sergeants’ Mess kitchen commenced. Completed June,

1957                          May. External painting of all buildings inside the Depot Wall.

 1958                         Modernisation of ”C” block completed.

For those of you interested in the history and development of the buildings themselves the following account is worth reading. The text of this chronology is based on a document supplied by the late Major Peter Lewis, Archivist of the Grenadier Guards