East (and main) gate to the Army Ordnance Depot, c1899-1902.
Reason for Listing
The east (and main) gate to the Army Ordnance Depot, Risborough Barracks, Shorncliffe Camp, of c1899-1902 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest and intactness: this is a handsome gateway which retains its original wrought iron gates and has moulded panelled piers displaying the Army Ordnance Department insignia;
* Rarity: no other examples of gateways displaying the arms of the Army Ordnance Department are known nationally;
* Relationship to setting: the gateway forms the main entrance to the Army Ordnance Depot, an unusual type of site component which was only found at the larger camps (examples are also known at the two other 'great camps' of Aldershot and Colchester) and as such is an important marker of the presence of this depot.
GENERAL HISTORY OF SHORNCLIFFE CAMP
Shorncliffe Camp was established in the late C18 and is significant for its role in the early years of the C19 as a training camp for light infantry, providing the troops who would prove crucial to the success of the British against Napoleon. The camp was sited in a key position in relation to the Kent coastline, which was always vulnerable to invasion from the Continent. Shorncliffe Heights had been purchased in 1794 for the construction of a redoubt, designed to provide a look-out point and battery to defend the bay below. In 1803 Sir John Moore (1761-1809) was appointed to command a brigade of infantry stationed at Shorncliffe, and it is Moore who is credited with establishing the rigorous and successful training regimen associated with the camp. The units at Shorncliffe, including the green-jacketed 95th (Rifle) Regiment, the first British infantry regiment to be wholly armed with the Baker rifle, provided the basis of the elite Light Division, which served with great distinction under Moore and Wellington; training placed emphasis on self-reliance, self-improvement and professionalism for both officers and men.
As was typical for early military camps, Shorncliffe, situated to the north and east of the redoubt, comprised little more than an open field, with temporary buildings put in place for seasons of training. Permanent training grounds for the army began to be established in the 1820s, and from the 1850s, against the backdrop of the Crimean War, further grounds were established. Although termed 'permanent', these camps comprised a formal layout of wooden huts, rather than buildings of more solid construction. The first of these mid-C19 hutted camps to be laid out was Aldershot, in 1854, with Shorncliffe (1854-5) and Colchester following soon afterwards.
An 1867 map of Shorncliffe shows the hutting of the camp laid out in grid patterns around the central parade ground. These were split into five ranges, lettered from A to E. Around the perimeter road a series of ancillary complexes are also shown. By 1873, further buildings had been added, including the surviving brick racquets court, indicating that by this date the camp was beginning to receive some buildings in more durable materials. By the late C19 the process of replacing the standard wooden accommodation huts with blocks in more permanent materials was well underway and, in a major programme of investment from 1890, most of the wooden huts had been replaced by the turn of the century. These new buildings formed: Moore Barracks, Napier Barracks, Somerset Barracks, Ross Barracks and the Royal Engineers Barracks (later Burgoyne; also incorporating some earlier buildings). These appear to have followed a standardised design, modified in layout to fit the allocated space, with the provision of parallel rows of soldiers' quarters, with a large officers’ mess and other ancillary buildings.
By the first decade of the C20, Risborough Barracks had been added on land to the north of the existing site and, to the east of this, an Army Ordnance Depot was laid out. Further expansion was undertaken in the First World War with the establishment of camps on St Martin’s Plain to the west. Around the outbreak of the Second World War the perimeter of the site was defended by a ring of pillboxes, and St Martin’s Plain was used as the base for anti-aircraft batteries. The largest phase of redevelopment after the Second World War was the construction of the new Moore Barracks in the early 1960s.
THE ARMY ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT
The Army Ordnance Department and Army Ordnance Corps were established in the 1890s. Arms were approved for use by Queen Victoria in 1896 and were a simplified version of those in use by the earlier Board of Ordnance (1414-1855; without the crest and supporters of that body) depicting three cannon and cannon balls.
THE ARMY ORDNANCE DEPOT (RISBOROUGH BARRACKS)
The earliest building of the Army Ordnance Depot was the Equipment Store which has a date stone of 1899, with most other buildings laid out in 1900-01. The buildings included a mobilisation wagon shed, tent bottom shed, packing case, saddlery and harness store and suggest that the depot was mainly intended to provide equipment for troops as they were sent to fight. Further buildings were added in circa 1906 and again in the mid C20 (a plan of probable 1940s or 50s date indicates three large blocks, presumably for storage, which have subsequently been demolished).
The piers of the east (and main) gate are shown on a 1902-3 plan of the Ordnance Depot (NA WO78/2542) and are therefore from the primary construction phase of 1899-1901.
East (and main) gate to the Army Ordnance Depot, c1899-1902.
MATERIALS: piers of red brick with yellower brick and stone dressings, wrought iron gates.
DESCRIPTION: each gate pier comprises: a square, black-painted brick plinth with a chamfered top (a square drain hole is cut through on a west-east axis); bi-partite panelled piers, divided unequally by a stone band, insets edged in curved section yellow bricks; upper panel to the east elevation houses a terracotta plaque depicting the arms of the Army Ordnance Department - ‘A.O.D.’ and a shield with three cannon balls above three cannon; moulded brick and stone cornice topped with stone ball finials. Original decorative wrought iron gates.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.