In 1793, fearing Napoleon may invade England and take the shortest route to London by landing his troops near Brighton, barracks for the infantry were built in Brighton’s Church Street and at the same time, a far larger site in the nearby village of Preston was developed for their supporting artillery and cavalry.
Stabling for over 1000 horses
Initially the barracks at Preston were just a cluster of temporary timber huts on brick foundations, but these were soon replaced with more substantial brick and plaster buildings, including a canteen and stabling for over 1000 horses.
Demolished in 1990
Although separate married quarters were added to the south in the 1850s, and around 1900, the original blacksmith’s forge and school block on the northern perimeter were demolished to make way for a more modern and impressive officers’ mess, in essence, the original Regency buildings were hardly ever altered externally and the barracks remained structurally unchanged for almost 200 years. It therefore came as quite a shock in the 1990s that this impressive local historical landmark, was suddenly demolished to make way for a hypermarket complex.
Buildings converted into residential accommodation
These days, the only surviving building from the original 1793 barracks is the former canteen in the north western corner. This building was converted for use as the barrack hospital and morturary around 1820 (see Alex Somerfield’s “Autobiography of a Working Man” which refers to cholera there in 1832) and Lord Cardigan of Charge of the Light Brigade fame, held various Court Martials there in the 1840s.
I knew it in more recent years when the Intelligence Corps, Royal Corps of Signals T& AVR and local Cadet force all used it as a base, and am pleased to say that having been reprieved from demolition, it has now been converted into some highly desirable residential accommodation.