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Windmill Hill Camp Then And Now


RedCoat
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Slightly high price for a camp not attributable to a specific unit (post 27).

But the postcard in post 25: I know one railway enthusiast who would pay quite a bit for that, and if it came up on eBay he and I would have a bidding war. I've got dozens of cards showing military railway lines in the Salisbury Plain area, but hardly any have trains on them. Perhaps the least-rare card that does is this one - also showing Windmill Hill - available now on

eBay

Moonraker

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More re the train in the photo in post 25. The railway enthusiast I mentioned above avidly collects anything to do with the Midland and South Western Junction Railway, which served Ludgershall and Tidworth. He writes:

"It really is nice to see a train in the background for a change! .... The train is too far away to be certain, but it looks like one of the smaller MSWJR locos in charge of 10 coaches and 4 vans or horse-boxes . Quite a load - although it wouldn't be too bad, I suppose, if it was a troop train, and was only going as far as Grafton, as the worst gradient it would have to face would only be 1 in 100. But some of the coaches look like Midland clerestories, which suggests that it would be going on through to Cheltenham, and so would have to contend with the 1 in 75 climbs just beyond Marlborough and Foss Cross."

Moonraker

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Moonraker,

I think the photo with the train is taken looking south, so the train is heading to Ludgersall and not towards Grafton. The village in the backround looks more like Ludgershall to me than Collingbourne Ducis which it would have to be if the camera was looking north.

This would mean that the cadets and camera were not positioned in Windmill Hill Camp when this photo was taken, but in a location about a mile NNE +/- somewhere just south of Heron's Copse.

Thoughts ?

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My understanding is that the photograph was indeed taken looking south from Windmill Hill Camp (note the shelter, probably used to protect cooks from the weather, on the left) and the railway line is that from Tidworth Barracks to Ludgershall. So the train is heading towards Ludgershall, where the locomotive would head the coaches into the station and then run around them to take them northwards on to Grafton and thence, perhaps, to Marlborough and beyond. Just north of Grafton was the triangular Wolfhall junction. Pressure from the War Office during the Boer War and the need for rail access to Tidworth led to improvements being made at the junction (one mile south east of the two Savernake Stations), where the MSWJR crossed the Great Western Railway; the £1,000 costs were shared equally between the two companies, the new arrangements being brought into use on July 28, 1902.

(It could of course be that the train would have continued south- east from Ludgershall to Andover or have turned west or east at Wolfhall onto the GWR, but its MSWJR coaches make it likely that it was heading north.)

Moonraker

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I will scan a bigger pixel picture of it, so I can zoom into train and coaches. I have another. But do not know if its Windmill camp...but it has an aeroplane with the OTC lads standing around it.

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Wonder what the structures are in front of the first coach and to the left of the officer's head? My first thought was latrines or showers, but they're too close to the railway - or are they screened off? Usually the only permanent structures at these pre-WWI camping-sites were bathing-pools, sometimes with primitive overhead showers, and cooking-shelters. I assume that the sites of latrines, presumably surrounded by canvas, were moved around. The water supply might be piped in, or pumped from a well. At Park House Camp, between Shipton Bellinger and Amesbury, there was a brick pumping station above the site.

Moonraker

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Many images, old and new, maps etc on this

excellent site

Scroll down the left-hand side (perhaps pausing at the Chisledon section for information on the Great War camp there) to "Ludgershall and Weyhill 2003" and "Tidworth and the Barracks".

Moonraker

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  • 1 month later...

I suspect the tents shown housed other OTC contingents as well as the BUOTC. Notes from the Marlborough Times:

26/7/12 Arrival of public schools Officers Training Corps at Ludgershall, from Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, & Whitehaven, en route for Windmill Hill and Pennings camps. First contingent arriving Friday 26th, others to arrive in 3 special trains on Saturday.

2/8/12 8th Infantry Brigade arrived at Tidworth from Plymouth in 4 special trains on Thursday.

700 members of O.T.C. from Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Bristol, & Cirencester, in camp on Windmill Hill. 25 special trains expected at Amesbury on Sunday with South Midland division.

Local newspapers were given to lavishing high praise on the way local railway staff handled so much extra military traffic, any minor delays being blamed on incidents up the line. In contrast there was quite a bit of criticism of the regular service provided by the Midland & South Western Junction Railway.

Moonraker

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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

An overcast day (what used to be called tupper wear weather) = no shadows.

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  • 2 years later...

I'm some what late to the party on this one as I've just joined the site, due to an interest in WW1 / Ludgershall, Tidworth area / the Royal Tank Corp.

I can probably illuminate you on some of the questions raised on this thread for the simple reason My family is from the area, in fact the first house nearest the camera in the photo in reply 10 was my Maternal grandparents house until around 1969, when they removed Bridge 13 of the MSWJR (later GWR) and realigned the Marlborough road closer to the house and raised it so you look out of the front room straight at the side of a car instead of over it.

Bridge 12 of the MSWR/ GWR was on the Andover / Tidworth was over the railway between the freight yard ( now the military yard) and the Passenger station. The Passenger station was rebuilt 1901-1905 with huge platforms to unload troops and their Horses.

The First Picture in reply Five was taken from the foot bridge on the civilian Platform facing north and that's Bridge 12 that you can see, the freight yard / todays military yard / Tidworth branch is beyond it . My Paternal Great great/ great grand parents coal yard and Highfield house is on the right of junction of the railway and the Tidworth road going over the bridge. This picture was taken some time after 1905 as you can see the flat piece of ground to the left of the bridge where a temporary Signal box was set up during the station rebuild and definitely before 1923 when GWR took over

The through line was closed in 1961, but freight services to Ludgershall didn't end until 1964, The Passenger station was demolished soon after, and is now two housing estates one each side of the railway. The MSWJR /GWR Tidworth Branch had been closed in 1958 and never was a military railway. The military railway only started at Tidworth and went down the hill into the barracks. But today the remaining line from Andover is classed as a Military railway siding

I'd point out the roads in the area were Chalk and very white doing strange things to photos, and no Doubt P**** **F many a soldier with having to re-bull his boots. I've read elsewhere it was not unknown for troops to march from Aldershot to Ludgershall / Tidworth for their weeks exercises!

Tin Town AKA Navvy town was also occupied unofficially after WW2 by families with nowhere else to go, as not surprisingly there was a great shortage of housing then.

The Last Photo reply 25, between the railway and the line of bushes which mark the Tidworth Road, is the site of Tidworth Down School opened 1940 ( my father attended from 45), Tidworth Down Secondary Modern Boys School 1965 ( When I attended from 1969) Castle Down school 1978, demolished and replaced by Wellington Academy not long ago.

The large white building showing above the train is Symonds lemonade Works.

The Military supplied the water to the water towers at the civil station and the Freight yard, so the MSWJR didn't use them much as the charges were seen as excessive. Now where that supply was from I don't know but it would be quite possible that those screened off areas could have had showers ETC as the major screening is between the railway and what ever they are.

I hope this is of help to those who are interested.

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I've referred the latest posts to the aforementioned rail enthusiast who has studied the Midland & South Western Junction Railway in great detail. He comments:

"There was certainly a shed-like building by bridge 12 at the time the station was being rebuilt, but as far as I knew, the original signal cabin remained in use until the new one was built and commissioned. The Tidworth branch may have had the appearance of a civil railway, but it was built on military land without authorisation of an Act of Parliament, and it was opened to traffic without the usual Board of Trade inspection - which ironically would have been carried out by an ex-military man. The BoT was unhappy about this, and in the end the line was inspected on a non-obligatory basis. There were surely some red faces when the inspector identified a flaw in the Tidworth interlocking, and recommended a modification. The company compromised by adding two ground discs, which ensured that the manoeuvre which could have caused the problem should only take place after due authorisation. The branch was taken over by the Army in 1955, and their last freight to Tidworth ran in 1964."

Moonraker

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I would add to the above statement that the Tidworth branch line was Operated by the MSWJR / GWR BR as theirs until the army take over.

I note reading various books that there appears to be some confusion over dates which makes it difficult. There is of course a difference between closed to traffic by BR and disused by the military. I must note I made an error in the above dates in that the Tidworth the last passenger train military was 25th May 1962 ( 51st Ghurkas arrived) the last civilian passengers were 1955, the last military goods was 5th Nov 1963.

Sadly my maternal Grandfather ( The Ludgershall GWR / BR ganger) died before I took an interest in the specifics of the line And my parents are not sure of dates as my father was in the RAF and we were posted away until we returned to Ludgershall in 63. So at that time my father was job hunting, waiting for a council house and had many other things on his mind at the time.

The interest in the RTC is the Paternal grandfather he didn't join up until the end of his Apprenticeship in A Glasgow shipyard in 1919 ( just in time for many shipyards to close or not need staff at the end of the war) having served in the UK, Egypt and British India ( now Pakistan) he was a CSM in the RTR at In 1939/40s France ( evacuated Dunkirk) and was RSM of the 7th RTR in the western desert. Since tanks existed for only a few years before his service I take an interest in the RTC / RTR from its beginning till his retirement in 1953.

For the military side I have a lot to learn and when time permits be doing lots of searches on this site for information, I doubt I will be able to contribute much, but will spend a lot of time lurking in the background as I do on a equivalent WW2 site..

Thanks for all your help in the future

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  • 1 year later...
  • 4 years later...

Hello! I know this is a really old post so bear with me. My grandfather served in WWII and camped in this area you are talking about with the 8th Armored Division, US. The historical accounts say that they stayed at Windmill Hill in pyramid tents but that the official name was Tidworth Barracks. It sounds to me like these were two different locations. I see the postcard from 1910 with pyramid tents. I'm curious if this is the same area. Google maps suggests that maybe this is called Windmill Hill Woods today? And Tidworth Barracks is now called Tidworth Camp on the map? 

 

907218387_WindmillHillMap.PNG.d86c7e053a5f10064c1e38d6f0682942.PNG

Edited by Angela W
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Welcome, Angela. Windmill Hill and Tidworth are indeed different locations, as shown on your map. Tidworth Barracks were built very early in the 20th century and from the start were very substantial. There were two satellite camping-sites, Tidworth Park and Tidworth Pennings, where very few permanent structures were erected - cookhouses and latrines, perhaps. The same with Windmill Hill.

 

I know only a little about Wiltshire in WWII , but in WWI a division of some 18,000 men would have been spread over several camps. Its location would sometimes  be identified by the name where the divisional staff were based, but some of its constituent units might have been camped miles away. Some people researching the military service of their antecedents  have found that the division to which they belonged was "at such a place" and assumed that (great) grandpa was too.

 

As far as I know, Tidworth Barracks remains the usual appellation. Seldom have I seen it named as "Tidworth Camp". The Windmill Hill camping-site has not been used for some decades (I think). During the early 20th century it was more popular that many other camping-sites with Volunteer and Territorial soldiers on their two-week annual camp because it was only a short march from Ludgershall Railway Station.

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Moonraker, thank you for the super speedy reply and for the detailed information! I am transcribing my grandfather's letters from WWII and tracing his journey with the help of accounts like this one: https://www.8th-armored.org/books/399th-hist/399h_pg04.htm (bottom of page) and http://www.fallennotforgotten.nl/8thADhistory.htm#:~:text=8th Armored Division History&text=The 8th Armored Division was,Kentucky%2C on 1 Apr 1942.&text=In January%2C 1943 it moved,to attain combat-ready status. (sorry for the long link but the second one basically just says they were there for 6 weeks (I can corroborate dates from Nov 20, 1944 to Jan 2, 1945). Here are a few excerpts from his letters about the place: "Nov 29 1944:  We sleep in tents like in Alvin, Texas only we have coal stoves instead of gas and not much coal. I was sent down to the quartermaster corps for a few days on rations, get all our food from U.S. except potatoes and beets, etc. they grow around here. Been going to small town to shows. Everything blacked out, went in this town 4 nights straight didn’t see what it looked like till Sun." ...."Dec 21, 1944 Went to a canteen tonight, a soldier was playing a piano. I sat there listened to that about 3 hours. Happened to go in a restaurant one night and heard the Ink Spots sing 2 songs. First time I’d heard them since on the boat. For a desk, I got my mess kit turned upside down on my bed with a Renosl light setting by. Will have electronic lights in about a week I guess." ..."Dec 28, 1944 Christmas was on guard, and was on K.P. today. Seen a good show the other night, “Dive Bomber” and last night the “Mask of Zorro.” Well, we almost had snow for Christmas, had a heavy frost Christmas Eve, gets pretty cold here at night, have 4 wool blankets over me and my overcoat and rain coat and shelter half (tent to you). Had turkey Christmas Dinner. Took a few men from the Battery over to see some boys in the hospital that had trench foot. Guys said the feet shrivel up, turn black. Have to amputate one boys both feet. Was in a fox hole 5 days in water and cold. We have our ration problems like you we have a slip of paper with items on candy, gum, cigarettes, toilet articles. 4 candy bars a week, 7 packages cigs. Trade mine for gum to guys in the tent. 1 package gum, 1 tooth brush every 8 weeks. Have 2 hours a week to get our rations. Battery had its picture taken one day. Will send it home when we get them, 101 men." 

 

It confused me a little bit that the first link said their new "home" was Windmill Hill but the "official name" was Tidworth Barracks. That didn't make any sense to me because it sounded like he stayed in tents the whole time and these were two different locations. It sort of begs the question, why didn't he stay in barracks if they were there? Perhaps they were reserved for officers? I don't know. But I appreciate your knowledge very much! It's hard for me to tell how far apart Windmill Hill is from the barracks. 

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  • Admin

Angela, your query is off topic for this forum which is for WW1. I would recommend that you and Moonraker carry on your correspondence via private messaging.

Michelle 

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Gotcha. Sorry about that. I have been scouring the Internet trying to find information about this specific place with no luck. I understand. Thank you. 

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