Boundary wall and railings, built between 1854-9.
Reason for Listing
The boundary wall and railings of the former Beaumont Cavalry Barracks, Aldershot, built between 1854-9, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: the wall delineates the boundary of one of the original barracks at the first permanent training camp for the British Army. The mixture of high walling and low railing-topped boundaries is illustrative of the change from fortified to more open barrack layouts at this period, as a result of changes in society and the role of the army;
* Architectural interest: for its varied decorative treatment including stretches with brick corbelling. The stretch of wall acting as a retaining wall to the south of the site, 8.5m in height, is an impressive example of Victorian engineering;
* Group value: with the only other remaining structures from the Beaumont Barracks, the Grade II* riding school and Grade II gateway and guardrooms which it adjoins.
A review of the army’s barracks undertaken by the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hardinge, in the early 1850s concluded that there was a need for a camp where troops could be accommodated for large-scale training manoeuvres in line with continental practice. After a successful training camp at Cobham in 1852, the following year Hardinge recommended the purchase of 8,000 acres of heathland at the village of Aldershot, noting its strategic position within easy rail access of London, Dover and the main naval arsenals at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Work on the new camp started in February 1854 and by 1856 two hutted encampments, the North and South Camps, could accommodate 20,000 men. These were mainly used to train the militia while a permanent barracks for regular troops was built to the south between September 1854 and 1859. These were known as the Wellington Lines and consisted of three infantry barracks (later named Badajos, Salamanca, and Talavera), three cavalry barracks (later named Beaumont, Willems and Warburg) and an artillery barracks. Construction was overseen by Colonel Sir Frederick Smith, Royal Engineers and the buildings were designed by Captain RM Laffan, the Deputy Inspector General of Fortifications.
The South Cavalry Barracks, renamed Beaumont Barracks in 1909 after a noted British cavalry action in Flanders on 26 April 1794 during the French Revolutionary War, were built in 1854-6. They comprised four parallel, three storey barrack blocks with stables on the ground floor. These were set in pairs either side of two central blocks, accommodating officers and NCOs respectively. There was also a large riding school building. Although the barracks of the Wellington Lines were generally open, the South Cavalry Barracks appear to have always had a boundary wall. In part, this was because the southern edge of the site required a massive retaining wall although possibly because it was located at the southern edge of the camp and therefore nearest to the village of Aldershot with its civilian population.
Regular regiments of cavalry were housed at the barracks until 1938. From 1947 until 1955 they housed Aldershot’s Territorial Army Centre and in 1956 acted as a reception centre for Hungarian refugees after the unsuccessful Hungarian Uprising. The barracks were demolished in 1975 and a major housing development, Beaumont Park, was built on the site. The only surviving buildings are the riding school (listed at Grade II*) and the main gateway with flanking guard houses (listed at Grade II).
MATERIALS: yellow stock brick laid in English bond. Copings of Portland stone. South and eastern sections topped by cast-iron railings.
DESCRIPTION: the wall encloses three sides of the site of the former Beaumont Cavalry Barracks and comprises three sections with different architectural treatments. To the west it runs along Farnborough Road and to the south and east, Alexandra Road. It is pierced by the adjoining, but separately listed, gateway and two flanking guardrooms on the west and on the south by Howard Cole Way, which was laid out in the 1970s.
The first section, at the north-west corner of the site, runs from immediately south of the Wellington Roundabout on the east side of Farnborough Road to the listed gateway. Approximately 4m high, it has plain stone copings and at the north end has a series of blocked window arches set high in the wall. These were presumably for the Quartermaster’s store which was built on the inside of the wall and is marked as such on the 1931 Ordnance Survey map. South of this is a short section with brick corbelling below the stone copings and then a slightly taller section with inset panels between broad pilaster strips. This probably marks the location of a forage store, again built against the inside of the wall. South of this is another short section with brick corbelling which adjoins the listed gateway.
The second section, to the south of the gateway, has a wavy, stepped profile as it ascends the hill to the corner of Alexandra Road. The top of the wall has decorative corbelling, an oversailing soldier course and later concrete capping. This section of wall terminates with a large brick pier with a corbelled cap.
The third section of the wall along Alexandra Road, providing the south and east boundary and pierced by Howard Cole Way, starts as a low wall less than a metre high, carrying iron railings. It gradually descends downhill from the corner with Farnborough Road, before rising uphill again to the east of the barracks. As it does so, it takes on the function of a massive curved retaining wall, 8.5m in height at its highest point. This section has Portland stone capping with square-section cast-iron railings. The upright supports for the railings are set into large Portland stone blocks set below the capping. These blocks extend from the interior face of the wall and are supported on brick buttresses. It is unclear whether these interior buttresses extend down the whole internal face of the wall. Diagonal supports for the railings are set into the rear of the stone blocks. The tallest section of the wall has square drainage holes arranged in a loose pattern and small arched drains at the foot. This part of the wall, where it curves round the south-east corner of the barracks, has suffered from severe cracking. Several sections of walling here have had patch repairs over the years, some in modern red brick.
The final part of this section, along the northern part of Alexandra Road to Auchinleck Way, is of more recent date. This wall, north of the termination of the original iron railings, is not of special interest and does not form part of the listing.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.