Hounslow Council bids farewell to Irish Guard and Cavalry Barracks

This summer after 229 years Hounslow Cavalry Barracks is closing and the borough says goodbye to the Irish Guards.

Published: Wednesday, 23rd June 2021

Hounslow Cavalry Barracks closure
Hounslow Cavalry Barracks Irish Guards parade

An important chapter in Hounslow’s history will come to an end this summer as the borough bids farewell to the Irish Guards. The closure of Hounslow Cavalry Barracks, which has stood at the heart of the local community for over two centuries, will see the end of the Army’s presence in Hounslow West after 229 years.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced in 2016 that the site was no longer needed and that the current occupants, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, would be relocating. The Irish Guards formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria, is a Light Role Infantry unit and has recently deployed on operations to Iraq and South Sudan. As well as this, the Irish Guards can be used to for ceremonial duties at places like Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Tower of London.

Mayor of Hounslow, Cllr Bishnu Gurung, said: “The Hounslow Cavalry Barracks has been deeply rooted within our borough and community for over 200 years. It is with great sadness that this long and proud military heritage of the barracks is ending, but we are grateful to all the regiments that have called Hounslow home while serving the United Kingdom.”

Cavalry Barracks is an important part of the borough’s heritage and Hounslow West evolved around the site, located on the north side of Hounslow Heath. The site on the Heath was notably used by Oliver Cromwell at the end of the Civil War in 1647. Hounslow, chosen for its proximity to London, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court, was the first of 40 barracks established to guard against the threat of Napoleonic French invasion in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Since then multiple regiments have occupied the barracks and helped to defend Britain, including the Middlesex Regiment, the Grenadier Guards, Scots Guards, Welsh Guards, and Irish Guards.

The historic site consists of 14, grade II listed buildings and provides examples of the innovative designs from key periods of British military history including the legacy of Florence Nightingale. It is thought that Florence Nightingale, one of Britain’s most celebrated nurses and famous for introducing hygienic care methods, was influential in the design proposed by hospital reformer Captain Sir Douglas Galton in 1862.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Money, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said: "The British Army has a long tradition in Hounslow and, over three centuries, it has built solid relationships within the community.  Our departure brings those physical connections to an end but we have made many friends in the borough and we are grateful for the unstinting support the community has offered to our families and soldiers.   We anticipate that we will remain part of the fabric of the society here well into the future."

Hounslow Cavalry Barracks closure

Hounslow Cavalry Barracks Irish Guards band

Looking towards the future of the Cavalry Barracks site, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Lily Bath, said:

“The Council took the chance to preserve the long and proud military heritage of the site, unlocking Hounslow’s history in an affordable, sustainable new community. Our planning brief sets out the restoration of historic listed buildings, quality new homes, including for social rent and shared ownership, a large public park, sustainable travel, and community use of the site. It’s another example of us delivering on our pledges.”

In July 2019, Hounslow Council gave the greenlight for the future of the Cavalry Barracks site in adopting a Planning brief setting out guidance for an ambitious plan for a sustainable future which will deliver new homes, jobs and green spaces and making provision for school places, health centres and transport infrastructure in the wider locality whilst sensitively preserving the historic listed buildings and heritage. The Council saw an opportunity to unlock a hidden piece of Hounslow West’s history, while creating an affordable and sustainable new community.

The barracks farewell comes in the same week as Armed Forces Day, taking place on Saturday 26 June. The Council will mark the national event to commemorate the service of men and women in the Armed Forces currently on duty as well as the service of veterans and cadets. While COVID-19 restrictions have prevented a celebration event taking place, the Council expresses its gratitude to all current and former members of the Armed Forces for their courage and fantastic work serving the country.

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