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HER Number:MDV59361
Name:Fremington Camp

Summary

The structures and earthworks which comprised the original layout and extent of Fremington Camp are visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s. Built on the site of the North Devon Polo Ground, the camp was originally built as an American military hospital. The remaining structures remained in use as a seasonal training facility until the camp was closed by the MOD in 2009. A planning application has been submitted to redevelop the site for housing.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 512 327
Map Sheet:SS53SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishFremington
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishFREMINGTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SW/136

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MILITARY HOSPITAL (World War II - 1942 AD to 1943 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1945, RAF/106G/LA/132, NMR RAF/106G/LA/132 5066 14-FEB-1945 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349061.

The 1945 extent of Fremington camp is well illlustrated on a slightly oblique RAF vertical aerial photograph.


Royal Air Force, 1945, RAF/106G/LA/132, NMR RAF/106G/LA/132 5126-7 14-FEB-1945 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349061.

The 1945 extent of Fremington camp is well illlustrated on a slightly oblique RAF vertical aerial photograph.


Royal Air Force, 1946, 106G/UK 1655, 4204 (Aerial Photograph). SDV339612.

Other details: 7/82.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1420, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1420 3410-3411 15-APR-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349553.

The earthwork pits and banked features along the north-eastern boundary of the site are no longer visible.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 4204-4205 11-JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349996.

Most if not all evidence for the smaller structures which were located between the ward buildings is no longer visible.


Ordnance Survey, 1967, OS/67042, NMR OS/67042 179-180 18-APR-1967 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349988.

Several complexed of structures, notably those at circa SS51353298, SS51373293 and SS51323261 have been removed.


Ordnance Survey, 1989, OS/89112, NMR OS/89112 149-150 04-MAY-1989 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350188.

The camp has largely reached its current complement of structures by 1989.


Bass, R. T., 1996, Guide to the US Assault Training Centre North Devon, 21 (Un-published). SDV325695.

The 313th American Field Station Hospital, Fremington.


Horner, W., 1998, Fremington Camp (Personal Comment). SDV342242.

Fremington Camp, built on site of North Devon Polo Ground. Currently Royal Marine training camp. Originally built as American military hospital. British Combined Operations Experimental Establishment (COXE) transferred here from HMS Appledore in 1946. Original building layout recorded on 1946 Royal Air Force aerial photograph.


Unknown, 1998, Untitled Source (Unattributed Sites and Monuments Register Entry). SDV342243.

Reference to Ministry catering inspection of building site at "Fremington House" shortly after 12/08/1942, in site inspection notebooks attributed to I. Smart, in the Devon Record Office.


Wessex Archaeology, 2007, RMB Chivenor Flood Defence Scheme Barnstaple, Devon: Archaeological Desk-based Assessment (Report - Assessment). SDV342125.

Other details: WA 201.


Unknown, 2011, Advice Report. Six Former Ward Huts with Linking Covered Way on the west of Fremington Camp (Hut Numbers 70, 72, 73, 94 and 95), Fremington Camp, Fremington (Report - non-specific). SDV347221.

Fremington Camp was constructed by the Ministry of Works and Planning as a a United States hospital under the auspices of the Bolero plan by which American troops were assembled in Britain in preperation for Operation Overlord. The hospital was built on a former polo ground. The contractor was M. J. Gleeson. Work began in July 1942 and was completed in March 1943. Designed as a 750-bed hospital, its capacity was raised to 834 beds before being put into operation. It included buildings dedicated to an extensive range of hospital services. The majority of the 118 buildings, including the 24 wards, were built to Ministry of Works and Planning designs using local bricks; staff were accommodated in Fremington House, and in brick, plasterboard or curved-profile asbestos huts.


Corcos, N., 2011, Land at Fremington Army Camp, Fremington, North Devon: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment, 12 (Report - Assessment). SDV348712.


Fremington Developments LLP, 2011, Planning Application Number 53147 (Planning Application). SDV350210.

A proposal to redevelop the site of Fremington Camp has been submitted. Two or three military structures have been proposed for incorporation into the development, with the remainder to be demolished.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S., 2011 - 2012, North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV349018.

The structures and earthworks which comprised the original layout and extent of Fremington Camp are visible on aerial photographs of the 1945 onwards. The layout was dominated by a minimum of twenty seven ward buildings connected by tracks or covered walkways, each measuring circa 42 metres by 8 metres in size. The wards were arranged in five rows each containing varying numbers of buildings. Between most ward buildings an area of hardstanding or foundation was visible, possibly supporting the interpretation that additional smaller buildings had been constructed in these locations, and had been removed by 1945. By July 1946 these areas of hardstanding were no longer visible. A great many additional buildings have been identified and transcribed across the site, similar in appearance and width to the ward buildings, but of varying length. Many survived on site until the late 1960s and early 1970s when several complexes were removed, notably those at circa SS51353298, SS51373293 and SS51323261.
A number of earthwork pits and banked features of unknown function have been identified on 1945 aerial photographs along the north-eastern perimeter of the camp. It is possible these were a precursor to the assault course which was later constructed just to the west, at circa SS51393284. It is possible such exercise might have had a therapeutic function. Sport was clearly considered an integral part of the hospital as three baseball diamonds and a possible American Football pitch were laid out in the field immediately to the north of the camp. Neither the earthwork features nor the sports pitches are visible on aerial photographs of April 1946.
Only those structures and features not depicted on the current Ordnance Survey base map have been transcribed. The camp reached its current extent, with all transcribed structures including the five north-westernmost ward blocks, demolished and removed by May 1989.
The site now faces redevelopment for housing. Three military structures are proposed to be reused in the development, one of which, known as ‘The Ship’, appears to post-date the end of the Second World War.


Pears, B. + de-Villiers, S. + Passmore, A., 2014, The Former Fremington Army Camp, Fremington, Devon: Results of an Archaeological Trench Evaluation and Historic Building Survey (Report - non-specific). SDV357013.

The southern part of the site was formerly part of the grounds associated with Fremington House, before being incorporated into the camp.
The army camp was constructed in 1942-3 as an Americal Army hospital to receive casualties from the D-Day campaign. It included Fremington House, but this was sold off in 1982. It ceased use as a hospital at the end of 1944, and in 1946 the School of Comnined Operations moved in. The camp closed in 2009. During the post-war period alterations were made to some of the buldings, and several groups of former hospital buildings were demolished.
Archaeological evaluation indicates that the formation of the camp appears to have caused considerable disturbance to the localised landscape with substantial truncation in placdes, alongside the accretion of hardcore and made ground horizons in other areas.
A total of 83 buildings were recorded during the survey, all but three of which were of Second World War date. Historic maps and aerial photographs indicate that a further 51 camp buildings have been demolished since the end of the war.
A variety of building types are represented, constructed to Ministry of Works and Planning specifications. The ward structures were constructed of clay blocks (similar to Roman box-flue tiles), a technique that, compared with a standard brick wall, would have greatly reduced the need for materials and time. This material seems to have been rarely used in the Southwest of England, and Passmore has noted its use at only one other site – a group of now-demolished buildings at Westlands School in Torquay. The wards were connected by walkways, and these were of solid construction, where exposed being of brick construction.
The accommodation (and other service) buildings were situated around the outside of the wards, and to a large extent it is these buildings that have been demolished (although a group of five wards in the northwest corner of the camp have also been lost). The surviving accommodation buildings were either constructed of brick and concrete block under pitched corrugated asbestos roofs, or were curved asbestos huts. These were a derivative of the 'Nissen' hut and entered service in early-mid 1942. In the Southwest of England they seem to have been used as a supplementary building type
on large sites housing American troops. For example, at Penhale Camp in Cornwall (a British anti-aircraft artillery training establishment), curved asbestos huts were constructed in 1943 to house newly-arrived US troops (see Passmore and Jones 2013, 11). An English Heritage advice report notes that plasterboard huts were also used, but have all been demolished.
Original exterior finishes included plaster, paint and bitumen, whilst internally the buildings had concrete floors, painted walls and in some buildings suspended ceilings that obscured the steel
angle-iron roof trusses. In other buildings plasterboard was originally fitted between the trusses and roof covering. The buildings were lit by metal-framed crittel windows and provided with wooden doors. In the wards, as well as some other buildings, there were double doors to allow access for stretchers.
A number of the buildings have been modified for post-war use including accommodation (Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCO) and other ranks stores and classrooms), and changes have included upgrading of the windows with UPVC, new lino or carpet floors, new sanitary furniture including wash basins within bedrooms (within SNCO accommodation), new suspended ceilings and the upgrading of electrics.
The English Heritage advice report records that in addition to the wards and operating theatre, surviving buildings included a massage building, a X-ray wing, the dental centre, the mental ward and one block of the VD wing, as well as the officers and other ranks messes, the hospital dining room and cook house, the administration block and the chapel. Within the ward ranges, the hospital dining room and cook house, as well as a laundry, can be identified as buildings 17-19 and 21 (converted from a ward). Building 83 is the former chapel, latterly converted into a rifle range, whilst buildings 15 and 76 were water towers. Buildings 14 and 22 have been identified as stores. The former is set within its own enclosure, which must indicate it was used to store dangerous items. Given the medical context of the camp, one possibility is the storage of radioactive x-ray materials rather than explosives or ammunition. Building 62, located close to the camp entrance, may have been a telephone exchange (although this building is probably of post-war date). Nearby building 61 is the current guard room, and may always have been used for such a purpose, although there are no distinctive architectural features, such as a veranda, usually associated with this type of building. The location of the surviving VD building has not been positively identified, although building 81 has characteristics of a ward and, along with demolished buildings to the east, may have formed part of this element of the hospital, set away from the main wards.
Internally, many of the buildings, particularly the wards, retain their original layout, although some such as the dining room and cook house have been altered and enlarged (taking over wards to form recreation rooms). A number of buildings have been fitted out as educational classrooms. The wards were generally of the same design, in standardised buildings of the same size. These ward buildings generally contained two large open-plan wards within one half of the building, with a central corridor at the other end giving access to up to five rooms on each side. These include toilets, and shower rooms, and must originally have had similar sanitary uses along with administrative offices and perhaps individual patient bedrooms. The layout and range of functions is similar to post-war and current NHS hospitals.
The layout of the accommodation buildings varied. The curved asbestos huts were open plan, which seems to be the norm for this type of building allowing 'barrack-block type accommodation for other ranks. Their design however did include an internal lining that obscures the frame supporting the asbestos sheets. The brick and concrete block accommodation buildings, all contained heated bedrooms access from a central corridor.
Three post-war buildings were positively identified as constructed in 1946. The garage (building 49) has previously been identified as being of all corrugated iron construction, and as such the only one of this construction within the camp. However, on all sides, the lower courses (to window level) were actually constructed of brick, and clad externally with corrugated iron, which continued to roof level.
The Ship (building 77) was a sports hall. It was constructed within a former garden of Fremington House and its north wall incorporates stone masonry representing the former garden boundary wall. The remainder of the building was constructed mostly from concrete blocks whilst the main span of the roof was corrugated sheets supported on large diameter steel rods. This area was well lit by steel-framed windows in both its east and west elevations. It incorporated a first-floor viewing gallery along its north side.
Mountbatten Hall (building 35) was used as a theatre and sports hall and was the largest single building within the camp. It was constructed from a Romney hut – a Second World War type that were often recycled for other uses in the early post-war period. As with The Ship it was constructed from corrugated sheets supported on large diameter steel rods, in this case massproduced in sections and bolted together to form arcs. The building was last used as a theatre and contained a stage that incorporated fittings for the movement of scenery.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325695Un-published: Bass, R. T.. 1996. Guide to the US Assault Training Centre North Devon. Manuscript. 21.
SDV339612Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. 106G/UK 1655. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4204.
SDV342125Report - Assessment: Wessex Archaeology. 2007. RMB Chivenor Flood Defence Scheme Barnstaple, Devon: Archaeological Desk-based Assessment. Wessex Archaeology Report. 67300.01. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV342242Personal Comment: Horner, W.. 1998. Fremington Camp.
SDV342243Unattributed Sites and Monuments Register Entry: Unknown. 1998.
SDV347221Report - non-specific: Unknown. 2011. Advice Report. Six Former Ward Huts with Linking Covered Way on the west of Fremington Camp (Hut Numbers 70, 72, 73, 94 and 95), Fremington Camp, Fremington. English Heritage (Listing) Inspector's Advice Print. A4 Stapled.
SDV348712Report - Assessment: Corcos, N.. 2011. Land at Fremington Army Camp, Fremington, North Devon: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment. Avon Archaeological Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 12.
SDV349018Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S.. 2011 - 2012. North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. ACD383/2/1. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV349061Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1945. RAF/106G/LA/132. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/LA/132 5126-7 14-FEB-1945.
SDV349553Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1420. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1420 3410-3411 15-APR-1946.
SDV349988Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1967. OS/67042. Ordnance Survey. Photograph (Paper). NMR OS/67042 179-180 18-APR-1967.
SDV349996Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1655. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 4204-4205 11-JUL-1946.
SDV350188Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1989. OS/89112. Ordnance Survey Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR OS/89112 149-150 04-MAY-1989.
SDV350210Planning Application: Fremington Developments LLP. 2011. Planning Application Number 53147. North Devon District Council Planning Application. Digital.
SDV357013Report - non-specific: Pears, B. + de-Villiers, S. + Passmore, A.. 2014. The Former Fremington Army Camp, Fremington, Devon: Results of an Archaeological Trench Evaluation and Historic Building Survey. AC Archaeology Report. CD754/2/1. A4 Bound + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV111553Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111554Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111556Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111559Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111562Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111563Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111565Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111567Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111588Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111772Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111774Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111790Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111793Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111798Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111799Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111808Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111810Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111813Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111886Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111888Parent of: Accommodation Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111613Parent of: Building adjoining Recreation Room at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111551Parent of: Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111558Parent of: Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111591Parent of: Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111783Parent of: Canteen, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111599Parent of: Canteen, Kitchens and Recreation Room at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111935Parent of: Chapel, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111926Parent of: Classroom, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111919Parent of: Climbing Tower, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111590Parent of: Education Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111769Parent of: Electricity Substation, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111770Parent of: Fire Station, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111858Parent of: Guard House at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111620Parent of: Kennel/Store Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111842Parent of: Kitchen at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111934Parent of: Latrine, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111597Parent of: Laundry Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111768Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111778Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111785Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111826Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111828Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111836Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111838Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111846Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111850Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111851Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111853Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111857Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111889Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111891Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111896Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111898Parent of: Military Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111881Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111884Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111901Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111903Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111910Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111923Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111930Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111931Parent of: Military Building, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111779Parent of: Mountbatten Hall, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111615Parent of: Nissen hut at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111776Parent of: Office Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111781Parent of: Office Block, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111900Parent of: Recreation Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111609Parent of: Recreation Room at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111840Parent of: Recreational Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111593Parent of: Secure Store at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV80010Parent of: Six Ward Blocks, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111788Parent of: Storage Building at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111605Parent of: Storage Shed at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111909Parent of: Storeroom, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111860Parent of: Telephone Exchange at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111818Parent of: 'The Hanger', Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111920Parent of: The Ship, Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111795Parent of: Walkway Connecting Barracks at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111595Parent of: Water Tower at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV111814Parent of: Workshop at Fremington Camp (Monument)
MDV12486Related to: Fremington House (Building)
MDV59203Related to: Sewage Tank near Fremington Camp (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4490 - RMB Chivenor Flood Defence Scheme Barnstaple, Devon: Archaeological Desk-based Assessment
  • EDV6132 - North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty NMP Project

Date Last Edited:May 1 2015 10:48AM