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Okehampton Camp: Building 150, formerly the hospital staff accommodation block, and Building 151, formerly the hospital

A Grade II Listed Building in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7184 / 50°43'6"N

Longitude: -4.0055 / 4°0'19"W

OS Eastings: 258524

OS Northings: 92891

OS Grid: SX585928

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.J2Y1

Mapcode Global: FRA 27H5.WXJ

Entry Name: Okehampton Camp: Building 150, formerly the hospital staff accommodation block, and Building 151, formerly the hospital

Listing Date: 5 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421827

Location: Okehampton Hamlets, West Devon, Devon, EX20

County: Devon

District: West Devon

Civil Parish: Okehampton Hamlets

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Okehampton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

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Summary

Former hospital staff accommodation block (Building 150), latterly used as a married quarters, and hospital (Building 151) at Okehampton Training Camp. Built 1893-94 by James Julian, War Office contractor.


Description

Former hospital staff accommodation block (Building 150), latterly used as a married quarters, and hospital (Building 151) at Okehampton Training Camp. Built 1893-94 by James Julian, War Office contractor.

MATERIALS: both buildings are constructed from coursed slatestone with brick used for the quoins, the window surrounds and the stacks. The hospital, along with the western and southern elevations of the former staff accommodation block, are now cement rendered. The roofs are of Cornish slate with terracotta ridge tiles, that to the former hospital being partly replaced in the early C21.

PLAN: the two buildings stand in the south-west section of the camp and are linked by the concrete surface of a former walled yard of which the walls have now been demolished. Both buildings are roughly rectangular-on-plan, with the former staff accommodation block, which is aligned north-south, standing at the west side of the yard while the east-west aligned hospital stands at the east side.

EXTERIOR: the former hospital staff accommodation block and hospital are both single-storeyed buildings with a similar architectural treatment including gabled elevations with exposed purlins and brick quoins. Although both buildings have brick window surrounds, those to the hospital have now been covered with cement render. Originally with small-paned sashes with timber frames, all windows are now late-C20, one-over-one sashes with metal frames and chamfered granite sills. All bargeboards are uPVC replacements.

FORMER HOSPITAL STAFF ACCOMMODATION BLOCK (BUILDING 150): the east-facing entrance elevation has two late-C20 porches with half-glazed doors set beneath concrete lintels; the left-hand side porch partially utilises some of the stonework from the walled yard. A narrow window sits to the right-hand side of the right-hand porch. The northern elevation is gabled and of three irregular bays. The west elevation has three window openings, the east elevation has two window openings whilst the south elevation has a single window opening.

HOSPITAL (BUILDING 151): the main entrance is situated at the right-hand side of the north-facing elevation and is flanked on each side by projecting gabled ranges; that to the right-hand side has a single window while that to the left hand side has two window openings along with a single window to its left-hand return and a ridge stack with a moulded cornice. At the left-hand side there are a further three window openings. To the rear there is an off-centre ablutions block linked to the main range by a short corridor. It has a gabled roof with two narrow window openings and a late-C20, flat-roofed addition adjoining its left-hand side. The main range to the right-hand side of the ablutions block has three window openings while the left-hand side, which has a lower eaves line, has five window openings. The gabled left and right-hand returns have one and two window openings respectively.

INTERIOR: the internal treatment of the two buildings is largely plain, with both buildings retaining wooden and half-glazed doors, wooden door surrounds and skirting boards.

FORMER HOSPITAL STAFF ACCOMMODATION BLOCK (BUILDING 150): has plain painted walls throughout, modern fire doors and a bonded lino floor. The corridor has tiled asbestos skirting.

HOSPITAL (BUILDING 151): the ward room is accessed by an east-west aligned corridor of painted brick with cambered-headed doorways to the rooms on the north and south sides of the corridor. The larger ward room at the east end of the building has plain painted walls and a late-C20 suspended ceiling. The ward and consulting rooms have opposing iron air vents set in their walls at upper level. All internal doors are modern replacements.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: standing between the two buildings is the concrete surface of a former walled yard which contains a north-south aligned surface drain. Both buildings are surrounded by a concrete path with curved corners and granite kerb stones.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the late-C20 ablutions block and link corridor to Building 151 (formerly the hospital), along with the suspended ceiling to the main ward room, are not of special architectural or historic interest and are not included in the listing.

History

Dartmoor has been used as a defensive location since at least the Bronze Age. There is evidence of Iron Age, Roman, Medieval and Civil War military use in the Okehampton area, indicating the strategic significance of the area as the elevated gateway to the south west of England. Okehampton Training Camp is on the edge of Dartmoor within the C13 Okehampton Deer Park. Medieval settlements were scattered through the park and the remains of one extends across the north-west corner of the camp, and others lie close by.

The modern military use of the moor dates back to the late C18 when it was used to train the Okehampton Militia. By the early C19, soldiers guarding Dartmoor Prison used the moor for training, and troops garrisoned in the Palmerston Forts in South Devon used Dartmoor by the mid-C19. The Militia also continued training, often on Hay Tor, and in large numbers. Later in the C19, due to improvements in the range and power of artillery weapons, the Royal Artillery School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness (est. 1859) became unsuitable for training, and Dartmoor was identified as a suitably barren and uninhabited area to become its summer headquarters. Training became formalised into regular summer manoeuvres for the Royal Artillery from 1873, with the permission of the landowner the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1876, the first annual training event took place using the north moor, with a tented camp located at Okehampton.

By the early 1890s the War Office and Royal Artillery resolved to build a permanent camp at Okehampton to provide better protection against the harsh weather conditions. On 31st December 1892, the War Office secured a 999 year lease for the site of the camp: 94 acres of land on the Okehampton Park Estate. The first phase of construction included buildings of a number of different types, functions and specifications. The highest standards of design and materials were reserved for the officers’ accommodation and stabling for their horses, the hospital, the dining rooms, a barrack room, sergeants’ mess and quarters, harness rooms and the guard room. The architect was James Julian, a War Office contractor, who used specifications outlined in paragraph 1151 of the Royal Engineers Regulations of 1892. The architectural detailing appears to be Julian’s own design. Construction was completed on 14 June 1894 at a cost of £11,604. Other ancillary buildings, such as troop stables, canteens, stores, magazines and offices were constructed of inferior materials to lower specifications. Temporary buildings were also built and the troops continued to sleep on straw mattresses in tents, laid out on terraces cut into the hillside. Other artillery training camps were set up at Lydd (1882), Golden Hill, Isle of Wight (1888) and Salisbury Plain (1899).

From May to September each year, batteries from across England travelled by rail to Okehampton for two or three weeks training. In 1901 a battery consisted of 5 officers, 166 men, 6 guns and at least 89 horses. The camp could accommodate two brigades each containing four batteries. The initial layout of the camp is shown on a War Office plan of 30 May 1896 (WO 78_3547), surveyed and drawn by F.W. Stanlake. To the north were the ordnance stores, magazines and a gun park (now the parade ground). In the centre of the camp were troop stables, dining rooms and terraced camping grounds. To the south, on the higher slopes, were the officers’ mess and their quarters, and the hospital.

Between 1904 and 1913 further buildings were added including four barrack blocks, improved drying rooms, and a bread and meat store. The North Gate to the camp was in place by 1906. During the interwar period, artillery operations became increasingly mechanised and tractors or jeeps replaced horses as the principal means of deploying field guns. new buildings with better facilities replaced some of the earlier structures. However, horses were still used in some capacity until the Second World War. The outbreak of war saw the increased use of the camp and nearly 30 Nissen huts were built for accommodation; and troop stables were converted to quarter blocks.

The D-Day preparations of 1943/4 led to the replacement of British troops with the American 4th and 29th Divisions, who took part in the Normandy invasion. Subsequently, training took place at Okehampton for the campaigns in Korea (1950-53) and Suez (1956), and it remained the most important field artillery practice camp in the country throughout the C20.

Since the late C20 the Camp has been used extensively by the Territorial Army, Commando Brigades and the Royal Marines, with some buildings having been replaced or converted to other uses. Due to the harsh moorland conditions, most buildings have uPVC window frames, protective render to the sides and rear. Many of the granite window cills on the earliest buildings have also been cement rendered. Most of the roofs have been recovered, and the chimneystacks removed. Other early camp buildings have been removed or otherwise altered in the C20, and a number of infill buildings have been introduced. The road plan of the camp is largely intact.

In 2014 the camp still provides accommodation for up to 720 armed forces personnel.

The former hospital staff accommodation block (Building 150), latterly used as a married quarters, and the hospital (Building 151) were built in 1893-4 and linked by a walled yard containing a urinal, a toilet and a small disinfecting chamber. The hospital was equipped with two wards, one with two beds and a larger one with nine beds. In the early C20 the larger ward was converted into an observation room for the Nutt range, a synthetic artillery training aid used for determining range estimation. At some time between 1922 and 1933 it reverted back to a ward room. In the late C20 the staff accommodation block was converted into a ‘B’-type (sub-standard) married quarters. Its two new entrance porches required the demolition of the yard walls and its contents.

Reasons for Listing

Building 150, the former hospital staff accommodation block, and Building 151, the former hospital, both of 1894 at Okehampton Camp, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: of the three artillery training camps to have been established in the late C19, Okehampton is the only one to survive with a legible group of contemporary buildings of note, of which Buildings 150 and 151 are two;
* Historic interest: they have strong cultural and historical significance, within both a local and national context. The Royal Artillery Training Camp at Okehampton played an important role in the advancement of new military techniques and tactics from the late C19;
* Architectural interest: handsomely designed buildings, given their military use, they are built using quality materials such as rubbed brick and local slate stone and granite to present one of the more successful architectural statements of this Victorian military generation;
* Intactness: despite some alteration, they retain their historic character and, with the former hospital being the example of a medical building at the camp;
* Group value: they form an historic group with other late-C19 camp buildings, with which it has a related use and design concept. Together they form a compact pre-mechanised transport artillery training camp;
* Setting: additional and significant interest is provided by the relationship of the camp to Okehampton Range on the Dartmoor Training Area. The range is of high historic significance in itself, and the two sites should not be seen in isolation of each other.

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