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Ashchurch Base Vehicle Depot

Hob Uid: 1439231
Location :
Gloucestershire
Tewkesbury
Ashchurch Rural
Grid Ref : SO9351333850
Summary : Ashchurch Second World War and subsequent military central vehicle depot. The site is bounded by the Ashchurch and Evesham railway (Linear 967) to the north, the associated accommodation camp to the west (1439257), the A46 road to the south and the B4079 to the east. It extends over an area that measures 1430m long by up to 670m wide. The site has been an Army depot since 1939 and is visible under construction on aerial photographs taken in 1940. In 1943 it comprised eleven very large rectilinear vehicle storage and repair buildings plus a large rail terminus situated to their north-east, but this was replaced by more large rectilinear buildings by 1954. A number of separate circular possible fuel stores are dispersed between the buildings, plus a large number of assorted vehicles. The site forms the focus of the World War II Ashchurch Vulnerable Position (VP 804) together with other contemporary sites nearby; the depot's accommodation camp (1439257), a military camp or storage depot at Northway (SO 93 SW 116) and the Northway Prisoner of War Camp (Camp 1009; 1439209), plus the camp's sewage works (1439245). The area was defended by a ring of light anti-aircraft gun emplacements (see SO 93 SW 108, 109, 117 and 126, plus SO 93 SE 65). The site has continued in use as a vehicle depot and in 2005 is the Ministry of Defence's primary vehicle storage and distribution site.
More information : Ashchurch World War II and subsequent central military vehicle depot. The site is centred around SO 937 338 and is bounded by the Ashchurch and Evesham railway (Linear 967 / UID: 1362044) to the north, the associated accommodation camp to the west (SO 93 SW 115), the A46 road to the south and the B4079 to the east. It extends over an area that measures 1430m long by up to 670m wide.

The site has been an Army depot since 1939 and is visible under construction on aerial photographs taken in 1940. On aerial photographs taken in 1943 it comprised eleven very large rectilinear vehicle storage and repair buildings that measure between 90m and 122m wide and between 97m and 147m long. A number of long narrow buildings are dispersed between them, plus a number of separate circular possible fuel stores, protected by flat-topped mounds which measure circa 12m in diameter. The buildings were painted with camouflage patterns during World War II. A large rail terminus was situated to their north-east, around SO 9393 3408, but this was replaced with more large rectangular buildings by 1954. Railway tracks also form a loop through the buildings and around the rail terminus and are connected to the main line at SO 9296 3375, with aditional sidings at SO 9333 3383. A large number of assorted vehicles and other equipment are parked in rows between the railway tracks and the buildings, and in large spaces at SO 9347 3372, SO 9365 3366 and SO 9385 3367. Two of the depot's southern entrances are defended by pillboxes (see UIDs: 1417840 and 1417841).

The site forms the focus of the World War II Ashchurch Vulnerable Position (VP 804) together with other contemporary sites nearby; the depot's accommodation camp immediately to the west (SO 93 SW 115 / UID: 1439257), a military camp or storage depot at Northway (SO 93 SW 116 / UID: 1439320) and the Northway Prisoner of War Camp (Camp 1009; SO 93 SW 111 / UID: 1439209), plus the camp's sewage works (SO 93 SW 114 / UID: 1439245). The area was defended by a ring of light anti-aircraft (LAA) gun emplacements (see SO 93 SW 108, 109, 117 and 126, plus SO 93 SE 65).

The site has continued in use as a military vehicle depot and in 2005 is the Ministry of Defence's primary vehicle storage and distribution site, known as Defence Storage and Distribution Centre (DSDC) Ashchurch. (1-6)

Broadly, the construction of the depot may be divided into two phases, wartime and early 1950s post-war expansion. Construction work began shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War and building work is visible on 1940 aerial photographs. By 1943 building work was complete and the depot comprised eleven large storage and workshop buildings, a large rail loading areas to the north, and barrack accommodation to the west (SO 93 SW 115). A ring of light anti-aircraft guns defended the depot and other defence sites in the vicinity, sites (SO 93 SW 108, 109, 117 and 126, and SO 93 SE 65).

To the north the former Midland Railway Ashchurch to Evesham branch line marks the depot’s boundary (Linear 967). To the south the A46 bounds the site and to the east the B4079, and the western side is delimited by barrack accommodation. The adjacent Ashchurch railway junction was one of the reasons why the depot was located here and in the event of damage to one of the lines trains could easily be rerouted. When this line was closed in 1964 a section was left in place to serve the depot. Today a siding leads to a loading area where vehicles may be driven directly on to flatbed rail wagons and the transport and loading area.

The depot was originally entered through four gates off the A46, three of these are now closed and it is entered from a single western entrance, Austin Road that leads to the guardroom. Functionally, the depot may be divided into two uneven areas. To the west of Austin Road is an essentially domestic and administrative area with two playing fields, the one to the south has a probably 1960s sports club on its north side (SO 93 SW 115). To the west of this playing field is a small, post-war service housing estate known as St Barbara’s Barracks. To the north of the guardroom and west of the main approach road is the unit headquarters, a NAAFI, barrack accommodation, and at its northern end a small maintenance area. To the north are also a handful of timber wartime huts, remnants of a once far larger camp.

At the northern end of the main approach road is the triangular transport and loading area. A railway siding enters here from the branch line to the west and is today served by a travelling crane. Along the southern side of this area, Churchill Avenue, are three, single storey, brick buildings, with steel Crittall-style windows and flat concrete roofs with raised clerestory lights. These were originally gas decontamination buildings and in the event of a poison gas attack would have provided changing and washing facilities for the workforce. On the northern side of the loading area are two less substantial wartime buildings constructed from hollow clay blocks: a wartime measure to economise on clay and fuel.

To the north and east of the main approach road are 11 large wartime maintenance and storage sheds and smaller ancillary buildings. Two types of shed were built. To the north are four steel framed sheds with brick walls, which are lit by northlight roofs. The provision for good lighting in these buildings may suggest that they were used for maintenance activities. Along the side walls of these buildings are integral brick air-raid shelters. Most have been stripped, although at some their entrances traces of the sloping support for the anti-gas curtains may be seen. Internally, a few retain wooden bench seats along their walls and emergency bulkhead lights. The remaining eight large sheds are also steel-framed with brick walls, but these have hipped, corrugated asbestos sheet clad roofs illuminated by glass roof lights. These buildings are entered from either end of the aisles through pressed steel folding doors. Between some of the buildings are large open spaces that were used for marshalling vehicles or storage, at the centre the largest of these is known as Liaison Square.

Between the main store sheds are a variety of smaller brick ancillary buildings and as described above, some, such as, the administrative offices (22) are built from wartime hollow bricks. Other smaller workshop and stores buildings are brick-built with hipped roofs. Around the depot are a number of circular fire ponds and observations or police posts. The latter are found adjacent to the entrances off the A46, at the eastern end of the central rail loading area and a larger one next to the ramp of the northern rail loading area. The posts are entered from the rear through a low entrance and internally there is room for no more than one or two people. Given the relatively narrow width of their observation slits, they were probably used by police patrols and fire watching, rather than for active defence. To the south of the current entrance was Northway Prisoner of War camp 1009 (SO 93 SW 116): and it’s likely that prisoners were used on vehicle maintenance duties. To its east was the camp sewage works (SO 93 SW 114).

During the war extensive railway sidings and open storage areas covered the northeast part of the site. By 1954, this area had been covered by a further 14 large storage sheds. These are steel framed structures comprising standard gabled aisles arranged in different number configurations. The external walls appear to be infilled with low breeze block walls to about 1m in height and above by corrugated asbestos cement sheeting, this is also used for the roofs, which are lit by glass roof lights. The buildings are entered from either end through sliding steel-framed doors clad in corrugated metal sheets. Also built at this time was the double-storey structure with a gabled roof set adjacent to the A46. This is also steel-framed with low concrete, or cement rendered, walls at its base and the upper part is clad in corrugated asbestos cement sheets with horizontal glazing bands.
(7)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 225A/UK842/1 9815-9816 06-JUL-1940
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR US/7PH/GP/LOC65 1046-1047 18-OCT-1943
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1929 1009-1010 16-JAN-1947
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Source Number : 4
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 542/16 (F21) 0294-0295 27-AUG-1954
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Source Number : 5
Source : Twentieth century fortifications in England, volume 1. Anti-aircraft artillery : England's air defence gunsites, 1914-46
Source details : VP 804 Ashchurch
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Vol(s) : 1.4
Source Number : 6
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : http://www.dsda.org.uk/ashchurch.htm [Accessed 01-MAR-2006]
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Source Number : 7
Source : Defence Storage and Distribution Agency, Ashchurch
Source details : Site assessment By Wayne Cocroft 20-NOV-2013.
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Source Number : 8
Source : Ground Photograph Reference Number
Source details : Property Services Archive collection. Ashchurch PSDA. p/g 11679, p/g18480, p/g 29102, p/g 11719
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : 20th Century
Monument End Date : 2000
Monument Start Date : 1901
Monument Type : Military Depot, Mobilization Centre, Motor Transport Park, Fuel Store, Vehicle Depot, Army Camp
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Second World War
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Observation Post
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 93 SW 113
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1417840
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1417841
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439209
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439245
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439257
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439320
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439323
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439455
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439131
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439159
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1439191
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: THE CARRANT VALLEY LANDSCAPE NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2006-01-16
End Date : 2009-07-26