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Remembered Today:

Windmill Hill Camp Then And Now


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Hi all,

Given that i live in the middle of Salisbury Plain i thought i would use my time to visit First World War sites and take some pictures, matching them up with old ones when i can find them. Yesterday i visited Windmill Hill Camp, apart from tree growth the area remains almost untouched since the war. From the hill i also noted how close to Ludgershall train station it is, as many will recognise so many war diaries feature "Marched from Windmill Hill to Ludgershall station). Hope you enjoy the pictures, more will follow of various other sites on the plain. Anyway, i hope i got the angle okay but is difficult!

All the best, Don.

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I do like these "now and then" photos. It's surprising how some woods have changed so little in shape over a century, and on several occasions I've been able to confirm the location shown in an old postcard by a field visit.

Windmill Hill must have been a popular summer camp-site because of its proximity to Ludgershall Station, especially among Territorials not used to marching far. Other camp-sites on Salisbury Plain involved quite a hike. Members of the First Canadian Contingent made many rueful comments about marching from Amesbury and Patney & Chirton stations to their sites on the central Plain in October 1914.

Windmill Hill also had the advantage of being within walking distance of the amenities of Ludgershall and Tidworth villages, and Andover was easily reached by train.

Moonraker

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Terry Carter

I have a PC of Birmingham University OTC marching up a quaint country lane passing old cottages as they made their way from Ludgershall Station to the camp. I will sort it out and post it tomorrow. It would be nice to see if you could match it with a modern day picture.

Cheers

Terry

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Ludgershall then & now

Roel

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Good photographs of the road out of Ludgershall.

If troops tried to march the same route today, they would be scattered by the cars and delivery trucks - the route is part of the Marlborough to Andover road and rarely without traffic

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This forms my running route and is the road I take when walking to windmill hill, you turn left round the back of the rail depot and the hill is in front of you.

Great pictures, Don.

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As i was passing today i have done a now and then with the original for comparison, i think the angle is spot on.

Don

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don

As a 'Then and Now' chap that is a very good comparison, Much better than a StreetView which is a lazy way of doing it.

Can you do one of Ludgershall staion ?

Bob

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I will certainly try though the bridge appears to have gone and the station has changed. I'm going for a run that way tonigh so ill see what I can do.

Don

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redbarchetta

I suspect Terry's second photo has already been 'Photoshop'd', the Edwardian version anyway - I don't believe those soldiers are actually walking on that road - not a shadow in sight and soldiers kind of 'floating'- think a bit of negative trickery has gone on there...!!

James

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Stoppage Drill

The bridge is still there, though rebuilt some years back, but the earth banks are the giveaway.

It's the one on the road towards the Vehicle Depot and Tidworth.

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I think that Bob means the long foot bridge that connected the platforms at the station itself? Always a giveaway in postcards showing the "Nth Blogshires on Salisbury Plain" at an unnamed station.

Another good effort by Donnie.

I can't see why an Edwardian photographer would have bothered to "Photoshop" a print when he could easily get a decent image on any day in the Tidworth-Ludgershall area. All some local postcard publishers did then was to "add" an image of an aeroplane or balloon to a photo, often of Stonehenge. It looks as if it was a dull day, hence the absence of shadows.

Moonraker

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Stoppage Drill

. It looks as if it was a dull day, hence the absence of shadows.

Moonraker

More likely it's a platoon of vampires.

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Took a walk up to the train depot, the tracks and platforms have changed completely and the is no way you can replicate the position as its all private, sorry guys.

Don

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Stoppage Drill

The track and railway line were retained to service the Defence Medical Equipment Depot and the Vehicle Depot.

The Veh D is still open, but DMED finally closed down a few years back.

After the (still existing) line ran under the bridge it then entered the sidings and loading platforms at DMED which are on the site of the old station very close to where your photo of marching men is shown.

An extension line then ran in a loop from the sidings (there is still a level crossing on the Tidworth road just before you get to Wellington Academy/Castledown Comprehensive school) to connect the Veh D.

The men in the photo are on Butt Street, named for the mediaeval archery butts nearby; you can locate their position, and the railway tracks on this map ;-

http://maps.google.c...ved=0CC4Q8gEwAA

The bridge in the background of the station photo is that at the crossing just north of "Paddock Suite and Sports Ground"

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Lovely comparison photos gentlemen, than you. It's always interesting to see what buildings/landmarks remain and fun to match things up.

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The track and railway line were retained to service the Defence Medical Equipment Depot and the Vehicle Depot.

The Veh D is still open, but DMED finally closed down a few years back.

After the (still existing) line ran under the bridge it then entered the sidings and loading platforms at DMED which are on the site of the old station very close to where your photo of marching men is shown.

An extension line then ran in a loop from the sidings (there is still a level crossing on the Tidworth road just before you get to Wellington Academy/Castledown Comprehensive school) to connect the Veh D.

Quite a few pics via Google Images - search for "Windmill Hill Ludgershall".

Moonraker

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Don

You may care to do a "now" photo of this scene, showing,probably, the 2nd VB Cheshire Regiment in 1906 marching past what was then Tidworth Down Farm and is now, according to Streetmap, Sweetapple Farm.

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The photo was probably taken from the railway bridge, now demolished, or embankment, and you may have trouble getting the right angle.

(OK, it's pre-WWI, but the terrain was the same then, and I know of very few wartime photos of Windmill Hill.)

Moonraker

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And this one, showing the Tidworth Military Railway in the background and beyond that the "navvy town" at Brimstone Bottom (map reference 251498) that housed workers building Tidworth Barracks. The men are those of the 1st Herefordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps.

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During the war, there was an Australian isolation hospital at Brimstone Bottom with 117 other-ranks beds for infectious cases only. The hospital was still marked on maps published in 1926. It has been suggested that the isolation hospital was built as early as 1900, though there may be some confusion with the "emergency hospital" that was part of the navvy village.

Moonraker

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The camping-ground was established in 1903. The Andover Advertiser enthused: 'we doubt if there is another on the Plain that can beat it for picturesqueness of surroundings, as therefrom can be obtained a view of the beautiful woodland scenery that stretches around in the direction of Tidworth Pennings'. An Officers' Training Corps camp was held in July 1914. One cadet, F. P. Roe (later a brigadier), has recalled with shame in Accidental Soldiers how, after carrying out a stiff training exercise which included a twelve-mile march, he joined in a song during a rest:

Why did we join the OTC?

Why did we join the army?

Why did we come to Windmill Hill?

Because we were bloody well barmy.

After the cadets had finished their song, their commanding officer, Major C. C. Christie, remarked: 'I hope I have succeeded in training you to be good officers. I have, I see, failed to teach you to be gentlemen. You will return to camp with your rifles at the slope the whole time except for the ten-minute break every hour; there will be no marching at ease.'

With war not yet declared, Major Christie handed out application forms for temporary commissions, each filled in with name and date and merely needing the cadet's signature. He said that war was a certainty and would last at least three years.

The 10th Royal Fusiliers, which at that time recruited from City firms in London, camped at Windmill Hill in early 1915, having spent six weeks in billets in Andover. For C Company its reveille one morning was set for 3.30am, with the men due on parade at 4.15. But the sergeant-major due to wake the men got 'beastly drunk'. When roused by the sentry, he went back to sleep and did not get up until 4.00, when he was called by the cook-sergeant, who had the men's breakfast ready. Just six officers and the sergeant-major paraded at the time ordered. Eventually the men spent ten hours in 'a heavy and bitterly cold rain' in the 'rottenest' [rifle-range} butts some had ever seen. The company commander told his men that they had disgraced himself and he was no longer proud to command them. Leave was stopped, and fourteen men who went to a portable coffee stall without permission were confined to camp for three days. They protested to the battalion's commanding officer, the NCOs threatened to resign if the company commander did not apologize and knots of sullen men gathered. Higher authority decided that the matter should be dropped, and the company commander 'went on leave'.

The 13th Rifle Brigade seems to have had a far happier time when it moved there in April. An exuberant Evelyn Southwell wrote: "We are having a great time here: there is as far as I can see nothing to complain of except dust, than which I have never seen any thicker in midsummer. It rises in almost solid clouds from a string of thirty or forty motor lorries, such as one meets constantly; while the smallest party of infantry raise enough to make them unpleasant to follow."

Southwell revelled in the training in dry weather in the surrounding countryside, describing a brigade training week as 'the Wonderful Week', and 'one of the happiest I've ever known'. But he was always pleased to sight the two clumps of trees on Windmill Hill when returning from long marches.

From 1915 tents at Windmill Hill were used in the summer to cope with 'overflow' from nearby hutments and Tidworth Barracks. After the war, summer camps continued on the site, and a racecourse was laid out. In 1921 it was the only Southern Command camp listed as suitable for Yeomanry and cavalry. Permanent latrines and bathing-pools were added in the postwar years.

For letters written by Southwell from Windmill Hill see

this thread of 2006

(starting from post 35)

Moonraker

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