Kempston Barracks and Grange Camp Square

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Myss, Jan 4, 2005.

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  1. Does anyone recall the above, or been/visited/serve there? My dad is ex-service and has really never talked about his experience (apart from the odd photo around his home) - until this afternoon. Started in the TA and then Army - left early 1970's.

    He has only travelled back to Bedfordshire once to see if he could find either of them above - but rumour says that one or both of them is apparently a 'housing estate' :evil:
    Although he don't say it, both places hold good memories for him, especially the Bks- as it was a place where he did his basic training and initally made good friends there who are unf no longer around. Speaking to him today on an one-to-one basic, he talks as if it was only last wk - I was amazed that someone who had said very little about this - recalls so much. When I mentioned this to him, he just said "Its not something you choose to forget". I said nothing.

    A 'google search' on the latter turns up bollox tbh, although Kempston is said to have closed in 1958?? and there's a new bks there instead???

    BTW - I saw this in my search - I found it quite an amusing tale. Seems like little has changed :D

  2. The Victorian barracks at Kempston, the Regimental Depot of the 16th Foot or Bedfordshire Regiment, were built in 1875-6 at the cost of about £50,000. The first troops arrived on 29th May 1877 and over the next sixty years thousands of men were trained here. In 1881 they became the Depot of the Bedfordshire Regiment and in 1918 the depot for the Beds & Herts. Between 1886 and 1900 the southern frontage of the Bedford Road was developed from New Town as far as the parish boundary, linking Kempston to Bedford. During the Second World War the barracks were used mainly as a convalescent centre, other functions having been transferred to Bury St. Edmunds. In 1958 the barracks closed and after nearly 80 years of decision making, a use as a Masonic Lodge has been found for the building. At least part of the Barracks; including the Keep is to remain, as is the Regimental War Memorial opposite on the Bedford Road.
  3. Yes I thought that - but that would make my Dad a mere youngster when he joined! I should say that I'm more looking for info post-1958. Thanks anyhow :wink:

    I've seen this article from a October 2003 press:

    A new barracks must have been opened to replace the old one, why? And when? And who!
  4. napier

    napier LE Moderator Kit Reviewer

    I stayed in the Bedford TA centre next to the old barracks site during Op FRESCO. From what I could see, other than the keep, all the barracks have gone under a housing estate, and the TA centre is a nasty 80's building with a modern garage block to the rear.
  5. I was stationed in Kempston from 1967 - 1970 Grange Camp was the T&AVR Training unit it was called Central Volunteer HQ RCT. It was located where Hillgrounds Housing estate now stands. The TA training unit moved to Grantham.
    The Keep at Kempston Barracks still stands with the memorial opposite the main entrance. and the married quarters located opposite and behind the barracks were sold by the MOD to civilians.The army cadet force now occupies a site next to the barracks

    Attached Files:

  6. I've attended numerous Masonic meetings at The Keep in Kempston. While there are many modern modifications, there are still staircases and corridors that are unchanged, as well as plenty of other evidence of the original features of the building. The War Memorial is very well maintained as one would expect. I'm not aware of any tours, but if your Dad wanted to visit and have a look round I'm sure it would be possible if you asked.
  7. I think that, like some other militia camps thrown up in WW2, Grange Camp had a longevity that was probably not originally intended. Most regular army depots had additional hutted camps added to cater for the additional numbers of conscripted men who entered service. More yet were built when US troops started coming over and also forming-up camps prior to D-Day.

    Many were later used for POWs and resettlement camps for Polish forces and their families etc.
  8. Part of the Keep does still stand and as a previous post states is a masonic centre. One end of it was demolished in about 1980 to make way for the Army Reserve Centre (TA drill hall in old money). That is currently occupied by 201 Sqn, 158 Regt RLC and various cadet units. I believe the military housing estate opposite was called Marlborough Park in reference to the Duke of Marlborough who raised the 16th Regiment of Foot. Behind the regimental memorial is the memorial garden. Behind the Keep is a new housing estate but dotted about are a few old military houses. The best time to visit is the week after Remembrance
    Sunday when the old comrades have their annual gathering, the Keep is open and their is a parade usually with a band
    and a short service at the memorial with drinks afterwards. It well attended and has been going on for years.