Guild Visit: Larkhill Royal Artillery Garrison, Wiltshire
October 9th, 2024
Larkhill has been used as a training area for the British Army since the first tented camp was established in 1899. In 1914 the first wooden and permanent buildings were built, and the camp expanded rapidly through the First World War and years that followed. A military light railway was established in 1915 to carry troops between the camps and training areas at Larkhill and nearby Bulford. Between 1909 and 1914 there was an aerodrome at Stonehenge to explore military applications for balloons and the powered aircraft. In the early 1930s the British Ordnance QF 25-pounder was developed and tested by the school of artillery at Larkhill.
In 1919 the Royal School of Artillery was established at Larkhill, and in 2003 the Headquarters for the Royal Artillery was moved from Woolwich in south-east London to the camp.
The garrison is currently made up the RA Headquarters, Royal School of Artillery and six Regiments of Gunners (including 14RA which is the training regiment for the artillery). The Garrison Artillery Volunteers have the base at Larkhill where they research, restore and train on legacy artillery pieces and keep alive ‘reversionary means’ of firing guns – something that will become important in a future conflict if modern computer/GPS aided system were interdicted.
A temporary RA museum is housed in the historic aircraft hangers close to the camp, and the garrison is also home to an impressive collection of silver, paintings and other memorabilia in the Grade II listed Officer’s Mess and Garrison Church.
The visit will include a tour of the (temporary) RA Museum, a presentation on military flying at Larkhill and viewing the ‘gatekeeper’ collection of historic guns, followed by lunch in the Officer’s Mess and a tour of the Mess’s paintings and silver collection. The afternoon activities will include a tour of current modern gunsheds and an introduction to the 105mm Light Gun, after which we will have a tour of historic gun sheds and a presentation on the work of the Garrison Artillery Volunteers before closing the visit with tea. There is no cost for the day, but those attending would need to pay for their own lunch.