Aldershot facts for kids
Statue of the Duke of Wellington
|Aldershot shown within Hampshire|
|Population||36,322 (Rushmoor Borough Council data)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||42.4 miles (68.2 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||GU11 and GU12|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Aldershot (//) is a town in the English county of Hampshire, located on heathland about 37 mi (60 km) southwest of London. The area is administered by Rushmoor Borough Council. The town has a population of 36,321, while the Farnborough/Aldershot Built-up Area, a loose conurbation (which also includes other towns such as Camberley, Farnborough, and Farnham) has a population of 243,344, making it the thirtieth-largest urban area in the UK.
Aldershot is known as the "Home of the British Army", a connection which led to its rapid growth from a small village to a Victorian town. Aldershot is twinned with Sulechów in Poland, Meudon in France and Oberursel in Germany.
- Aldershot Military Town
- Transport and communications
- Leisure and recreation
- Parks and open spaces
- Location filming
- Images for kids
The name may have derived from alder trees found in the area (from the Old English 'alder-holt' meaning copse of alder trees). Aldershot was included as part of the Hundred of Crondall referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086. John Norden's map of Hampshire, published in the 1607 edition of William Camden's Britannia, indicates that Aldershot was a market town.
Prior to 1850, Aldershott was little known. The area was a vast stretch of common land, a lonely wasteland unsuitable for most forms of agriculture with scant population. As it existed at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, the extensive settlement of Crondall in the north-east corner of Hampshire was certainly Scandinavian, for among the customs of that great manor, which included Crondall, Yateley, Farnborough, and Aldershot, that of sole inheritance by the eldest daughter in default of sons prevailed, as over a large part of Cumberland, and this is a peculiarly Norse custom. In the 18th century, the stretch of the London to Winchester turnpike that passed through Aldershot between Bagshot and Farnham (now known as the Farnborough Road) was the scene of highway robberies. At one time it had "almost as bad a reputation as Hounslow Heath". Dick Turpin is said to have operated in the area having his headquarters nearby in Farnborough, and there were sightings of Springheeled Jack.
In 1854, at the time of the Crimean War, Aldershot Garrison was established as the first permanent training camp for the British Army. This led to a rapid expansion of Aldershot's population going from 875 in 1851, to in excess of 16,000 by 1861 (including about 9,000 from the military). Mrs Louisa Daniell arrived in the town at this time and set up her Soldier's Home and Institute to cater for the spiritual needs of the soldiers and their families. The Aldershot riot of July 1945 caused considerable damage to the town centre when disgruntled Canadian troops rioted in the streets for two evenings.
A substantial rebuilding of the barracks was carried out between 1961 and 1969, by the architecture and engineering firm Building Design Partnership. The work was sped up under Government pressure, and various new building technologies were employed with mixed success.
After a 2009 campaign, the British Government allowed veteran Gurkha soldiers who had served for more than four years, and their families, to settle in the UK. As many Gurkha soldiers had been based in and around Aldershot, the town fosters a growing Nepalese population. Between the 2001 Census and the 2011 Census, Rushmoor's Nepalese population increased to approximately 6,000 people, making up 6.5% of the overall population. The rise in the Nepalese population led Gerald Howarth, Conservative Member of Parliament for Aldershot, to request government assistance in expanding local public services to meet the needs of the growing population. Howarth was later criticised for suggesting that Nepalese migrants should be dispersed across the UK.
The Aldershot Military Tattoo
The Aldershot Military Tattoo was an annual event dating back to 1894. In the 1920s and '30s, the Aldershot Command Searchlight Tattoo held at the Rushmoor Arena presented displays from all branches of the services, including performances lit by flame torches. At one time the performances attracted crowds of up to 500,000 people. The Tattoo was organised to raise money for military charities. By the end of the 1930s the event was raising around £40,000 annually. The Tattoo's modern format, the Army Show, was cancelled in 2010 by the Ministry of Defence due to budget cuts. It was briefly revived the following year and attracted 20,000 visitors. In 2012, it was styled as the Aldershot Garrison Show, a smaller free event held on Armed Forces Day.
The Army Show was replaced in 2013 with a general Military Festival. Events were held across the town, including an art exhibition, live music, sports events and film screenings.
1972 Aldershot bombing
On 22 February 1972, Aldershot experienced the first in a series of mainland IRA attacks. Seven people, all civilian support staff, including five catering staff, a gardener, and a Catholic British Army chaplain, were killed in a car bomb attack on the 16th Parachute Brigade headquarters mess. A further 19 people were injured. The bombing was claimed by the Official IRA as revenge for the Bloody Sunday massacre. An area to be developed into a memorial garden was used to mark the 40th anniversary of the bombing in 2012.
Aldershot Military Town
Aldershot Military Town is located between Aldershot and North Camp near Farnborough. It is a garrison town that serves as the location for the military presence in the area. It houses Aldershot Garrison's married quarters, barracks, Army playing fields and other sporting facilities. The military town includes some local landmarks, such as the Aldershot Observatory, Aldershot Military Cemetery, the Royal Garrison Church and other churches. Until 1993, the town served as headquarters for the Royal Corps of Transport and the Army Catering Corps, until they were merged into the Royal Logistic Corps and moved to Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert showed a keen interest in the establishment and development of Aldershot as a garrison town in the 1850s, at the time of the Crimean War. They had a wooden Royal Pavilion built which they would often stay in when attending reviews of the army. In 1860 Albert established and endowed the Prince Consort's Library, which still exists today. To celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, 25,000 British and Colonial soldiers marched from Laffan's Plain near Farnborough, reviewed by Queen Victoria. Beside the British soldiers marched men from Canada, India, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Aldershot Military Town comes under its own military jurisdiction. It was home to the The Parachute Regiment from its formation in 1940 until it moved to Colchester Garrison in 2003. Many famous people have been associated with the Military Town, including Charlie Chaplin who made his first stage appearance in The Canteen theatre aged 5 in 1894, and Winston Churchill, who was based there in the late 19th century during his time in the Army.
The area also houses various military and regimental museums, including the Aldershot Military Museum, housed in a red-brick Victorian barracks. Until December 2007 the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Museum was in Aldershot. It has since moved to the Imperial War Museum Duxford. The RAMC Memorial to the 314 men of the Royal Army Medical Corps who lost their lives in the Boer War of 1899-1902 is located at the top of Gun Hill.
An outline planning application has been agreed for the redevelopment of some of the former Military Town. The Aldershot Urban Extension will bring some 3850 new homes, two new primary schools, a children's day-care centre, additional secondary school places, community facilities, waste recycling and landscaping to an area of 150 hectares.
In 2013, the MoD announced a £100million investment to expand Aldershot Garrison and bring 750 more service personnel and their families to settle in Aldershot.
A statue of the first Duke of Wellington mounted on his horse, Copenhagen, is situated on Round Hill behind the Royal Garrison Church. The statue is 30 feet (9.1 m) high, 26 feet (7.9 m) from nose to tail, over 22 feet (6.7 m) in girth, weighs 40 tons and is intricately detailed including musculature and veins. It was designed and built by Matthew Cotes Wyatt who used recycled bronze from cannons that were captured at the Battle of Waterloo. It took thirty men over three years to finish the project.
Originally, in 1846, the statue was erected at Hyde Park Corner, London on the Wellington Arch. However, Decimus Burton, architect of the arch, had tried to veto this plan for his preferred "figure in a four horse chariot". Many agreed with Decimus Burton that the statue looked ridiculous since it was out of proportion. It was nicknamed "The Archduke" and was a popular topic in the satirical magazine Punch.
Queen Victoria claimed that the statue ruined the view of the skyline from Buckingham Palace, and she privately proposed that the statue be moved. The Duke, who had only sat for the sculptor on two or three occasions, suddenly became very attached to the statue and would not consider its removal from its arch.
In 1885, the Prince of Wales handed over the monument to Lieutenant General Anderson, the commander of the Aldershot Garrison.
The observatory is a circular red-brick building with a domed roof and it stands on Queen's Avenue. Inside is a telescope, 8-inch refractor, mounted on a German-type equatorial mount with a clockwork drive. The telescope and observatory building were a gift from aviation pioneer Patrick Young Alexander to the British Army, a fact which is recorded by a plaque near the observatory door. It reads: "Presented to the Aldershot Army Corps by Patrick Y Alexander Esq 1906".
Transport and communications
The town is close to several major motorways including the M3, A3 and M25, which provide connections to London and the South Coast.
Farnborough Airport – Europe's leading business airport – is 5 miles, London Heathrow is 29 miles, and London Gatwick is 43 miles away.
The railway station and bus station are both situated off Station Road. From the railway station, South West Trains run services to London Waterloo, Alton, Guildford and Ascot.
Aldershot bus station is the terminus for many bus services in the Aldershot Urban Area, it also services buses from further afield.
The majority of the bus services from Aldershot are provided by Stagecoach in Hants & Surrey, with one being provided by Fleet Buzz and a National Express coach between London and Portsmouth twice a day.
Leisure and recreation
Following the demolition of the Theatre Royal and Hippodrome theatres in 1959 and 1961, the local council opened its own Princes Hall in 1973 as an entertainment venue. Another entertainment venue and arts centre is the West End Centre on Queens Road which is popular for small-scale theatre, music and comedy.
Music and dance
The Palace (previously The Palace Cinema, The Rhythm Station, Cheeks, Vox), influenced the rapid growth of the hardcore scene from 1992 to 1995. Weekly events included Fusion (Hectic Records), Tazmania, Slammin' Vinyl and Future World. The club also groomed local talents such as DJ Sharkey, DJ Mystery, DJ Sy, DJ Unknown, Vinylgroover, DJ NS, Hixxy, MC Freestyle, MC Young, MC Smiley and of course the Spyder MC who in 2004 became the voice of carton Spiderman. The location of Aldershot between Southampton and London meant the club became a mecca for Hardcore and it was regularly sold out during this time. At the height of the club's popularity, a teenager's death from a suspected overdose of Ecstasy was the catalyst that saw dance music leaving the club and had a negative impact on the hardcore dance scene in the Aldershot area.
The Beatles in Aldershot
Sam Leach, their then agent, and wanting to become their manager, attempted to introduce The Beatles to London agents by promoting shows at The Palais Ballroom, on the corner of Perowne Street and Queens Road in Aldershot on 9 December 1961. The show was not advertised properly and, as a result, only 18 people attended. The local newspaper, The Aldershot News, failed to publish Sam Leach's advertisement for the show. However, the band and friends had their own fun after the show, including a mock funeral for Paul McCartney. Weeks after this Brian Epstein became the group's manager.
At the end of the 90s and the start of the 2000s, an underground scene of rock bands cropped up around Aldershot. Notable bands include Reuben, Vex Red and Hundred Reasons.
Union Street and Wellington Street at the centre of the town's shopping district were pedestrianised in the 1970s when the Wellington Centre, a covered shopping centre, was built over the site of the town's former open-air market.
In the 1990s the Victorian shopping arcade and various other period buildings in Wellington Street were demolished to allow for the building of an extension to the Wellington Centre known as The Galleries; many of these shops are currently closed pending refurbishment. In 2003, a health check of the town centre concluded that, "Aldershot is experiencing promising signs of revitalisation, particularly in the shopping core".
In 2005, Rushmoor Borough Council documented the percentage of vacant shops at 10%, 8% and 7% respectively for Union Street, the Wellington Centre and Wellington Street.
The Westgate Leisure Park, which opened in 2012–2013 and which fronts onto Barrack Road, includes a Cineworld cinema, a Morrisons supermarket, and several chain restaurants, including Toby Carvery, Harvester, Nando's, Mimosa, Pizza Express, Prezzo and Frankie & Benny's. There is also a Tesco superstore located at the rear of the development.
Parks and open spaces
Aldershot has many parks, playgrounds and open spaces for sport, play and leisure, including Aldershot Park, the Municipal Gardens, Manor Park and the Princes Gardens, the latter three a short walk from the town centre.
The legacy of the Army has meant that the land for leisure use, as well as protected areas for flora and fauna, has been preserved over many years. On the Surrey border can be found Rowhill Nature Reserve which is popular with nature-lovers, walkers and joggers.
The barrack scenes in the 1968 film The Charge of the Light Brigade starring David Hemmings and Trevor Howard were filmed at the old West Cavalry Barracks (now largely demolished). The gates of the West Cavalry Barracks also stood in as the prison gates for the 1960 film Two-Way Stretch starring Peter Sellers, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Lionel Jeffries.
The area was used for location filming of the 1970 Doctor Who serial The Ambassadors of Death.
Due to its architecture, Bruneval Barracks in Montgomery Lines was chosen as the location for snowy scenes in Kazan, Russia at the end of the 2009 James Bond film Quantum of Solace. Parts of Aldershot's military training area were also used for the opening sequence in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day.
The Montgomery Lines were again used for Brad Pitt's new film World War Z based on the novel by Max Brooks. Filming began 1 September 2011.
Filming for Call the Midwife took place in the Headquarters' Building on Steeles Road in October 2016.
Images for kids
Aldershot Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.