Barracks names in Bordon

Work on St Lucia and Quebec Barracks proceeded, so that by February 1903 it was reported that 120 - 150 workmen were occupied getting the buildings ready. Painters were busy on doors, windows and fences. Drainage was laid down, a sewage farm prepared and the grounds in front of the Officers’ Messes were laid out as a garden with well kept lawns.

Somersetshire Light Infantry marching to Bordon
Quebec Barracks

By the end of April the Somersetshire Light Infantry returned from South Africa and marched from Bentley into Quebec Barracks, Bordon. On the 5th May, the men were presented with the Queen’s medal for the South African Campaign by Major General Sir Bruce Hamilton. On the 6th May they went on leave for two months.

At the beginning of June the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment, having spent four years on the Veldt, travelled from Southampton to Bentley Station. They marched to St. Lucia Barracks, Bordon headed by a band, much to the delight of the local population. The Regiment was under the command of Colonel H Batson and this battalion had left for Durban in October 1899 and had been involved at Colenso, Spion Kop and Ladysmith.

St. Lucia Barracks

The men brought back souvenirs from South Africa: at nearly every window in their quarters there were hung cages of canaries, the screech of parrots was heard and monkeys abounded.

Major General Sir Bruce Hamilton distributed 150 Queen’s medals to the members of the regiment and the men then left on leave.

James, a vervet monkey from South Africa. who belonged to Captain Steward

Meanwhile a light railway was constructed to connect the two camps of Bordon and Longmoor. Numerous complaints were made about the marshy and unhealthy land at Longmoor. As a result, it was decided to use two lines of huts from there, for the construction of Guadaloupe and Martinique barracks on the west side of the A325 at Bordon.

Guadaloupe Barracks

The 53rd Company Royal Engineers was moved from Chattenden Barracks, Chatham in May 1903 to accomplish this transfer. This company constructed two 18 inch light railway Decauville tracks exactly 22 feet apart and parallel to each other. On this they moved the 68 huts to Bordon. Each hut was 72 feet long and 21 feet wide and weighed between 30 and 40 tons. It was jacked up to allow seven pairs of trolleys to fit beneath it and the hut, now on wheels, was drawn to the light railway and placed across the two tracks. A vertical boiler, a winch and a 200 gallon cistern were mounted on a platform in front of the hut. A steel rope was dragged forward by two horses a maximum distance of 500 yards along the lines, attached to a tree or some other solid object on the side of the track, and the steam winch then wound in the rope and the hut was pulled forward.

The average speed was about 3 miles an hour on the flat, but less up hill, when steam traction and ploughing engines had to be called in to assist. On steep downhill gradients a 6 inch drag rope was wound two or three times round a tree in the rear to act as a brake.

The 4.5 mile route taken by this line was behind or across the butts of the three ranges in Longmoor, across Whitehill crossroads and into Bordon through Hogmoor enclosure. The average rate of movement was four huts a week. The fastest journey accomplished was to remove one hut from Longmoor to Bordon in one day, but this did not include setting the hut up on the bogies before starting. At the Bordon end the 23rd Field Company erected the huts as they arrived on the two new barrack sites.

Martinique Barracks
(showing a Scottish regiment in residence)

The movement of huts was completed in the summer of 1905. During this time there were inevitably a number of accidents. In June 1903, in the process of lowering one of the huts from the jacks to the ground a sapper of the Royal Engineers was killed. It was a wet day and therefore slippery, so that the hut swung sideways off the jack on to the ground and crushed the sapper beneath the hut. It was half an hour before the hut could be removed. He was given a military funeral at All Saints Church, Headley.  On another occasion a hut fell off the line at Whitehill and was abandoned.  It served many years as the local Police Station.

Whitehill Police Station and mounted police
(the railway connecting the two camps ran along the side of the A325)

Bordon Camp Post Office

Initially, a post office was set up for the troops in Quebec Barracks. One of the huts was used and this can be seen as the middle hut in the cover picture of the entrance to the barracks. In 1908, as the number of troops increased in the area, the post office moved to a brick building on the other side of Camp Road and is used today as the sorting office. The original name was the Bordon Camp Post Office, but as the town grew this was altered to simply Bordon Post Office. The original letters were kept to change the name, and if looked at carefully, the word 'Camp' can still be seen underneath.