Colchester's Military Heritage

Please visit the following links for more information.

What buildings still exist? 3
43 to 1750 2
1750 - 1860 4
1860 - 1900 5
1900 to present 6
A Museum? 7

Colchester Men at Trafalgar
Colchester Men at Waterloo
Colchester Men at Gallipoli
Colchester Men at the Somme

1900 to the present day

The Abbey Fields

The Artillery Barracks

Camp Church

Cavalry Barracks

Goojerat Barracks

The Gymnasium

Hydrabad Barracks

Meeanee Barracks

The Military Hospital


 During the course of the 20th century, the garrison went on to be further enlarged to cater for the needs of two world wars and the several other military actions and states of emergency - and many an ex-soldier has made his home in the town. The following pictures record Colchester's garrison from a time of Edwardian postcards, through to photographs that were taken in the past few years.

During this period there were many additions and alterations made as the army became mechanised and the reliance on horses diminished. The present day Roman Circus House was built in the 1930s as a NAAFi, as were others, including what we were later to know as the Arena Leisure Centre, built originally as a NAAFI in 1947, but now (in 2015) destined for demolotion.










A photograph from around 1920 that shows the gymnasium on the far left, with the Abbey Fields to the right and looking

westward along Circular Road. This is followed by a picture from a similar period of soldiers undergoing training.

Then we have a plan drawing of the building from perhaps the 1930s period with a swimming pool having been built onto its west side.

Then we have a 1940s painting of the building, artist unknown.

Below we have a 1980s photograph which clearly shows that the lantern and chimneys had been removed by that time.

In March 2014, arsonists destroyed the Colchester building, leaving it as a burned out shell.

Will this phoenix rise from the ashes?

NOT COLCHESTER! The picture below shows the similarity of architecture and construction at the military gymnasium in Bromption.

NB earlier deatils of the gymnasium are to be found here.



MILITARY HOSPITAL (all now gone)
 Colchester Military Hospital was one of several army hospitals in England, UK. It is now closed and has been demolished. It closed when the QEMH Woolwich opened in 1977


The picture shows the interior of the building that was built in 1947 as the NAAFI club for Colchester garrison. It was designed by Ernest M Joseph of the London architectural practice Messrs Joseph, and it was one of a group of eight post-war NAAFI clubs which were built, all designed by Mr Joseph. The eight NAAFI clubs were Portsmouth (built 1946), Colchester garrison (1947), Aldershot garrison (1948), Chatham (1948), Catterick garrison (1949), Plymouth (1952), Lincoln (1952-3), and Salisbury (1954) *. Roman Circus House was built in 1937 to house the NAAFI institute of the Artillery (Le Cateau) Barracks. In 2015, the Arena Leisure Club (as it had become) was closed and the building was destined for demolition.


View of Colchester and Hyderabad and Meeanee Barracks, Colchester, 1920 - Britain from Above  

 The Meeanee Barracks and the town, 1927 - Britain from Above


View of Colchester and Le Cateau Barracks, Colchester, 1920 - Britain from Above

 Military Pub Signs

Many of our pubs are a lasting legacy of past military times with a selection of our pub signs shown below.


 As is the way with progress, new barracks were constructed and those Victorian barracks were sold around 2004.

The modern Merville Barracks took over to serve our modern British Army.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR - 1914 to 1918

Local historian Mrs Joan Soole has compiled a list of Colchester men who were killed in action or died of their wounds at the two WW1 battles. Please click on each for details.




This period in our military garrison history requires research and the results will be added here as information becomes available. It takes in the two world wars and several other conflicts across the world.

If you have anything to contribute to this, please contact us.  


Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester: The Facts


.....and for a bit of fun, take a look at the Cavalry Barracks in 1989

with the filming of Blackadder Goes Forth

Please visit the following links for more information.
What buildings still exist? 3
43 to 1750 2
1750 - 1860 4
1860 - 1900 5
1900 to present 6
A Museum? 7
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Page Created

17th October 2013


5th October 2015




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