1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aldershot

ALDEHSHOT, an urban district in the Basingstoke parliament division of Hampshire, England, 34 m. S.W. by W. of London, on the London & South-Western and the South-Eastern & Chatham railways. It was a mere village till 1855, when Aldershot camp was established. Pop. (1891) 25,595; (1901) 30,974. Its germ is to be found in the temporary camp on Chobham Ridges, formed in 1853 by Lord Hardinge, the commander-in-chief, the success of which convinced him of the necessity of giving troops practical instruction in the field and affording the generals opportunities of manœuvring large bodies of the three arms. He therefore advised the purchase of a tract of waste land whereon a permament camp might be established. His choice fell on Aldershot, a spot also recommended by strategic reasons, being situated on the flank of any army advancing upon London from the south. Nothing came of Lord Hardinge's proposal till the experience of the Crimean campaign fully endorsed his opinion. The lands at Aldershot, an extensive open heath country, sparsely dotted by fir-woods and intersected by the Basingstoke canal, were then acquired by the crown. Wooden huts were erected in 1855, and permanent buildings to replace them were begun in 1881. Under the Barracks Act 1890, and the Military Works Act of 1897 and 1899, large sums were provided for completing the work. The former division of North and South camps and permanent barracks no longer obtains. North camp is now named Marlborough Lines, with a field artillery barrack and five infantry barracks called after Marlborough's victories. South camp is now named Stanhope Lines, after Mr Stanhope, who was secretary of state for war when the Barracks Act 1890 was passed and the reconstruction commenced in earnest. They contain barracks for the Royal Engineers and Army Service Corps, the general parade, which stretches east and west, and five infantry barracks called after battles (other than those of Wellington), of the wars with France, 1793-1815. There are also barracks for the Royal Army Medical Corps. The old permanent barracks (which were built for the most part about 1857) have been renamed Wellington Lines, with cavalry and artillery barracks; and three infantry barracks called after Wellington's victories in the Peninsula. For the sick there are the Connaught Hospital in the Marlborough Lines, the Cambridge Hospital in Stanhope Lines, and the Union Hospital in Wellington Lines, besides the Louise Margaret Hospital for women and children and the isolated infection hospital.

The drainage of the station is all modern, and the sewage is disposed of on a sewage farm under the direction of the war department. The water supply is partly from the Aldershot Water Company, and partly from springs and resevoirs collecting water from a reserved area of war department property.

Most of the barracks can accommodate not only the units they are constructed for, but also detachments going through courses of instruction. The total of men, women and children for whom quarters are provided is at times as high as 24,000.

Besides the regimental buildings there are a large number of buildings for garrison purposes, such as quarters and offices for general, staff and departmental officers, with the warrant and non-commissioned officers employed under them; the supply depot with abattoir and bakery; the ordnance stores; barrack stores for furniture and bedding, shops and stores for R. E. services; the balloon establishment; the detention barracks; fire brigade stations; five churches; recreation grounds for officers and men; schools; and especially the military technical schools of army cooking, gymnastics, signalling, ballooning and of mounted infantry, Army Service Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps and veterinary duties. The work of these schools is, however, only a small part of the military training afforded at Aldershot; of greater importance is the field and musketry training, for the carrying out of which a considerable extent of land is essential. The land required for these purposes extends at present over an area about 9¼ m. in extreme length by 7¾ m. in extreme width. In addition to this there is the land at Sandhurst and the Staff College (Camberley) about 6½ m. distant, and at Woolmer Forest, 12 m. distant. The musketry practice of the troops at Aldershot is carried out at the Ash ranges, 2 m. east of the barracks, while the Pirbright ranges, alongside those of the National Rifle Association at Bisley, are utilized by the Household Cavalry and Guards, who are encamped there in succession. Suitable grounds in the vicinity of the barracks, of which Caesar's Camp, the Long Valley and Laffan's Plain are best known, are utilized for company, battalion and brigade training of infantry, while the mounted branches work over a wider area, and the engineers carry out their practices where most convenient. For the field-days of the combined arms, the whole of the war department property is available. Aldershot is the headquarters of the "Aldershot Army Corps," which is the largest organized force maintained in the United Kingdom.

Besides the troops in barracks, during the drill season there is often a considerable force in camp, both regular troops from other stations and militia and volunteer units, so that, including the regular garrison, sometimes as many as 40,000 troops have been concentrated at the station for training and manœuvres.