Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Friday, 18 March 2011
Worcestershire Regiment's farewell to Norton Barracks
Army building
The old archive building was put up in World War 2

With a small but significant ceremony the direct ties between the Mercian Regiment and the Norton Barracks site have ended.

Since the barracks were sold in the 1980s the Worcestershire Regiment's archive was kept in an old Army building, surrounded by the housing estate built on the site.

The archive has been moved to the new Territorial Army HQ in Worcester.

The old archive building will be demolished, ending the Army's presence at Norton.

Easier access

Colonel John Lowles, who has looked after the Worcestershire Regiment archive for many years, welcomes the move:

"It is a rather ugly one-storey building, put up in 1940, and it was one of the buildings that formed part of the barracks.

"We had three rooms in this building for the stores and the archives, and we're very lucky now to have just one room for everything - we're still in the process of sorting it out, but already the stuff is much more accessible."

History

Norton Barracks were built as a home for the Worcestershire Regiment in 1877.

The War Department purchased the 20½ acres site for £3,500 (£300,000 today) and spent a further £65,000 (more than £3m today) on the imposing barracks buildings.

The Keep at Norton Barracks, Worcester
The keep once held a tank containing 20,000 gallons of water

The most distinctive of these is The Keep, which Colonel Lowles says survived thanks to the quick thinking of one man:

"We are extremely lucky that it is still there - in fact it was one of the regimental secretaries, when he got wind of the fact that the Ministry of Defence was going to sell the barracks, had it listed.

"That's the only reason it's still there, because the other buildings were all demolished."

Street names

When the Ministry of Defence sold the site, in the 1980s, a housing estate was built around The Keep.

Colonel Lowles says the local council were keen to keep some connection with the Worcestershire Regiment:

Street names
The street names are from battle the Worcestershire's fought in

"We are very lucky that Wychavon District Council, when the housing estate was built, asked us to suggest some names, and we suggested the names of some of our battle honours.

"So when we've left here, and this place has finally been knocked down, there will still be some sign of the fact that the regiment once occupied the place."

  • Gallipoli Drive - Lt. Herbert James won a VC during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915
  • Cambrai Drive - Battle of Cambrai November/December 1917
  • Gazala Road - Battle of Gazala, fought in the Western Desert, 26 May-21 June 1942
  • Kohima Drive - Battle of Kohima, fought in Northern Burma, April 1944
  • Ramillies Drive - Battle of Ramillies, under the Duke of Malborough, May 23 1706
  • Vimiera Close - Battle of Vimiera, 21 August 1808
  • Talavera Road - Battle of Talavera, 27-28 July 1809
  • Salamanca Drive - Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812
  • Toulouse Drive - Battle of Toulouse, April 10, 1814

Cricket week

Cricket ground at Norton
The cricket field was once next to the parade ground at Norton Barracks

Another survival from Norton Barracks is the cricket pitch - a key part of the Regiment' s social life, according to Colonel Lowles:

"The regiment had a cricket week in June - at least two England international, over the years, played for the regiment at various times: Rowley Jenkins played - he had been a PT instructor here, and Peter Richardson, after the war, also played.

"I know that when Peter Richardson was playing they had to have a couple of prisoners on the square to catch the balls that went straight through the fielders.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Farewell to Norton
18 Mar 11 |  Hereford & Worcester
In pictures: Mercians on parade
11 Mar 10 |  People & Places
Audio slideshow: Mercians at war
03 Dec 09 |  History

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