Local History Society

 Properties - Garrison Housing


This article was prompted by the release in 2011 of more Garrison houses for private sale, and relates the history of these houses.

When the Remount Depot opened in 1904, the Army employed civilians to look after most of the camp's functions. Key personnel lived outside the borders of the camp. During WWI, the Army took more direct control of the Depot in order to cope with the greatly-increased workload. When WWI ended, the camp again employed civilians. Wokingham Rural District Council built two rows of semi-detached houses along what was then Eversley Rickman Close Road mainly for employees of the Remount Depot. The 'Council Houses' now form Rickman Close (see left) and Bramshill Close.

When the Remount Depot closed in 1937 , it was soon reopened as 'Arborfield Garrison', home to the RAOC Depot in 1938 and the new Army Technical School in 1939. 

At this stage, married quarters had been built in and around what is now known as Valon Road. During WWII, these were augmented by more temporary accommodation, but since then the 1939 brick-built houses have regularly been updated. Here's an aerial photograph (courtesy of the National Monuments Record ) showing them as they were in 1946.  The married quarters as they were in 1946

In the top left-hand corner is Eversley Road (now Rickman Close) and its junction with Langley Common Road, whose junction with Biggs Lane is at the top centre. Eversley Road continues southwards on the extreme left of the photo, with the 'Bramshill Hunt' P.H. just visible opposite the Council Houses. 

More houses were built by around 1960 to round-off the block of married quarters bounded by Biggs Lane, Princess Marina Drive, Eversley Road and Langley Common Road.

Officers' married quarters were further to the south of Moat House , on and behind Biggs Lane and clustered around a cricket pitch.

A later aerial photograph taken for the Ordnance Survey on 30th August 1961 (and reproduced under licence from the National Monuments Record)  shows Venning Road adjoining the Rugby field:


The Garrison Bypass  was opened in 1969, with space to convert it to a dual carriageway. It severed much of what had been Poperinghe Barracks , leaving the 'spiders' of wooden buildings on the far side of the bypass to become a Piggery.

In early 1971, the Ministry of Defence announced a scheme to upgrade their housing stock to take away the 'rough edges'. It involved 50,000 houses around the country, and Arborfield Garrison was to be the first to benefit. They published some before-and-after illustrations as shown below.

Original layout

This diagram shows part of the layout as of 1971 (see 1946 aerial photo above, for comparison). There were 115 pre-war houses, plus another 90 post-war, including Venning Road (bottom right of image) facing playing fields.

The concrete roads were considered excessive, and pedestrian routes bore no relation to where people wanted to walk. The gardens were bounded by chain-link fencing, and the play-areas were in the wrong place.


Proposed improved layout

The planned improvements included re-designing the roads to the minimum local authority standards, and allowing one garage per house, plus one parking space for every two houses.

Access to houses was to be reversed, with a single-storey extension where the old front doors were.

New houses were to be built to plug the gaps, and play areas were to be made more children-friendly.

Photo of existing road, fencing and gardens This view shows the chain-link fencing in the front and rear gardens and the concrete road-ways as they were in 1971.
Road-way removed, and better play areas An artist's impression shows the enlarged play areas and the new brick-built garden walls. 

The MoD had access to far greater funding than did the local authorities, so the Army was able to carry out its scheme, and in addition to build a new estate of wedge-shaped houses in Faraday, Fleming and Kelvin Closes, appropriate names for the School of Electronic Engineering.

The re-vamped estate was bounded by a new road named 'Baird Road', which for much of its life was to be fenced-off to prevent through traffic. Part of Baird Road has since been opened-up to provide access to Penrose Park.

The old A327 Eversley Road was broken up into sections: Rickman Close to the north of Langley Common Road, then Bramshill Close and Whitehall Drive separated by a grass strip to prevent through traffic to Baird Road, and finally Sheerlands Road. The now-quiet lanes still have their old road markings and 'cats'-eyes' to show that they were formerly a main road.

The biggest change was that the road linking Eversley Road to Biggs Lane, south of a long line of post-war houses, was replaced by wide tree-lined footpaths as shown below.

From the old Eversley Road (now Bramshill Close) looking east. The old roadway is now a stub, replaced by a tree-lined path. Former Eversley Road junction
The privately-owned houses of Valon Road face the Rugby field, with no cars or chain-link fences to spoil the view. Houses facing Rugby pitch
The lines of houses on Valon Road and Venning Road facing the Rugby field used to be separated by a concrete road, as seen in the 'before' layout shown above. This is now a footpath edged with some 1970s houses, as seen in the 'after' layout also shown above. Former junction between Valon and Venning Roads
At Biggs Lane, there is now no sign that there used to be a concrete roadway past the houses of Venning Road, seen to the left. Former Biggs Lane junction

At the other end of this estate (now largely sold off as private houses) is Baird Road, which parallels Langley Common Road.

Landscaping between Baird Road and Valon RoadThe backs of the privately-owned houses on Valon Road are separated from Baird Road by a landscaped area edged with old railway sleepers. On the other side of Baird Road is a pedestrian underpass leading to Rickman Close.  

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