Cavalry Barracks is one of two military sites to close and may be turned into housing
The Hounslow barracks which is the current base for the 1st Battalion The Irish Guards is set to be shut down in 2020, with relocation of the unit to Aldershot. It may now be turned into affordable housing by Hounslow Council, along with another site in Feltham.
The Irish Guards have been based at the barracks since June 2015, but the site near Hounslow Heath has been used as a Crown garrison for centuries because of its proximity to London, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.
Oliver Cromwell, James II and even Florence Nightingale have been based there.
In the 1940s the Middlesex Regiment was based there. It has also served as the Army's West London Communication Centre, used as an Army Treasure, and a base for the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, during the 1980's. and base for the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in the 1980s.
Hounslow Council says it will ensure the best use is made of the sites that are currently home to Hounslow Cavalry Barracks and Feltham’s Defence Geographic Centre, after both have been earmarked for closure.
The Ministry of Defence [MOD] announced this week that the operation of the defence military sites across the country as it stands, is too expensive to run.
The aim of supporting the country’s defence forces and making these sustainable for future generations formed the key part of the strategy that followed a review of military operations and its cost.
The Queen's Own Huzzars being taught to balance on wooden mounts, in the 1930s; image LBH
As a result, over 50 sites across the UK have been designated by the Ministry of Defence for closure, including the two sites in Hounslow and Feltham.
The Hounslow barracks which is the current base for the 1st Battalion The Irish Guards is set to be shut down in 2020, with relocation of the unit to Aldershot. Operations at the Defence Geographic Centre [DGC] at Feltham are set to close and services re-deployed to RAF Wyton, St Ives Cambridgeshire in 2023.
The Hounslow barracks came to national attention in 2007 when MPs expressed concern in a report that some of the Victorian buildings at Cavalry Barracks were so bad that troops staying in tents in Afghanistan had better living conditions.
Hounslow Council said; "This site has already been designated as a key area in the Feltham Housing Zone and the council will work closely with the MOD and the Greater London Authority [GLA] on the potential release and future re-development of this site.
"The council will also look to see that the cavalry barracks, an important site in the borough, could bring about opportunities for new affordable housing, community use and the enhancement of the listed buildings already there."
Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “It is with much regret we hear the news that these two military sites are to close as a result of further cuts to military services from central government; it’s really disappointing.
“They have been an integral part of our community for centuries and immersed in the history of our borough.
“We are extremely proud to host both these bases and the operational services that work out of them and it is a huge shame that within seven years, the sites will be closed and re-located in other areas.
“We will work closely with the Ministry of Defence to see that we can make the best use of these sites when they are available, so we can look to meet the needs of key priorities we have in the borough such as housing.”
November 14, 2016