Saighton Camp

Project Profile

Project Title :

Saighton Camp, Chester

Client :

Commercial Estates Group

Type of Work :

Environmental Statement, Evaluation
and Building Recording

Project Gallery 

Office block   Bar and Mess  
Officer's house   Squaddies' houses  
Bunker entrance   Gas and chemical warfare training chamber  


Saighton Military Training Camp, Chester

Echoes of War

Between 1938 and 1939, with war looming on the horizon, Saighton Camp in Chester was constructed as a military training camp. The camp covered an area of approximately 33 hectares and is situated to the east of the River Dee, just to the south of the village of Huntington; although now separated from the site by the A55T Chester by-pass.

It was originally used as a basic training facility for the army, and by 1940 light anti-aircraft batteries were already undergoing instruction at the camp. Saighton Camp subsequently became the Primary Training Centre for the 233 Light Anti-Aircraft Training Regiment of the Royal Artillery. In 1949, following the end of the war, it briefly became Training Centre No 12 of the Royal Pioneer Corps, and in the 1950s and early 1960s the camp appears to have been used by the Royal Signals Corps. Later, in the 1970s, the Green Howards are recorded as occupying the site followed by the Gordon Highlanders from about 1975 until at least 1983. Afterwards, the site was converted into a medical training centre for the Royal Medical Corps and used to train Territorial Army and Reservists medical personnel, as well as Regular Army medical personnel.

The camp reached its peak in 1962 but with the abolition of National Service in 1960 the numbers coming into the camp began to dwindle and the site was progressively reduced in size thereafter. By 1993 the vast majority of the easternmost third of the camp had been dismantled, and by 1999 only three structures survived within this area. The camp was eventually closed and subsequently sold to the Commercial Estates Group (CEG).

In 2005 NAA were commissioned by CEG to undertake a range of heritage services in connection with the redevelopment of the site. This initially took the form of a Desk-Based Assessment, looking at the archaeological potential of the site and later culminating in a contribution to an Environmental Statement for the scheme. Planning permission was subsequently passed by the local planning authority on appeal.

The preparation of the Environmental Statement required several programmes of archaeological evaluation in order to better understand the heritage asset. These ranged from several programmes of trial trenching to a programme of historic buildings appraisal and recording. The trial trenching confirmed a considerable level of disturbance resulting from the construction and use of the camp, but also identified the remains of Roman settlement activity in one part of the site. The building appraisal element comprised the recording of a total of 87 military structures which had survived the various episodes of camp contraction. Most of these were in a poor state of preservation, but all were examined and recorded as part of the project. The buildings ranged from domestic structures, such as the married quarters and officers' houses, to barrack blocks, catering and dining facilities, administrative blocks, gymnasia, magazines, armouries, storage buildings, and the buildings latterly used by the Royal Medical Corps. Aside from the domestic buildings, the majority of the remaining buildings were demonstrated to have been substantially remodelled; many even completely rebuilt in the 1960s and 70s.

Do you remember Saighton Camp? Were you one of the countless men and women who trained at the site, either during the war or afterwards? If you have any pictures of the camp during its use as a training facility, then do get in touch. We would also love to hear any stories or memories you may have of the site. Depending on the response, we will publish an additional feature on our website at the end of 2011 - you never know, you may be able to contact old mates or colleagues from your army days.Call Paul on 01833 690800.

icon-pdf-smallDownload the Desk-Based Assessment
icon-pdf-smallDownload the Standing Building Report