History of Cavalry Barracks

Walmer and Deal

Walmer and Deal are steeped in history and their association with the sea, because of the proximity to Europe, is well known. Julius Caesar landed in Walmer, the Royal Navy had a busy ship yard from the early 17th century until 1864, the Duke of Wellington lived in Walmer Castle and HM The Queen Mother was the Warden of the Cinque Ports and often visited Walmer Castle.

The army was billeted in the town throughout the 18th century and during the wars with France its presence was dramatically increased, so in 1795 a new home was built for the Infantry and Cavalry.

Cavalry Barracks had accommodation and stables for the 15th Light Dragoons. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars a new challenge emerged and the "Blockade Men" fought the smugglers from the same base. The army's presence ended in 1869 when the Admiralty acquired the site and the Royal Marines arrived.

This held a special meaning, since they trace their origins to February 1665 when a company of foot soldiers arrived at Deal described as the "Yellow Company or the "Marching Company". This small group became part of the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment which 90 years later was established, and is acknowledged as the father of the present Royal Marines.

The Marines impact on Deal, particularly in the second half of the 19th century, was of great importance both socially and financially. At that time the town was struggling out of the disastorous depression of the second quarter of the century. The gloom was lifted enourmously by the by the arrival of many men of all ranks and ages, accompanied by the womenfolk and families in many cases, whose participation revitalised many social activities and started others, and their money spent, in the shops, improved both the finances and the morale of the business community.

In more recent times units have been stationed and trained for many highly specialised duties, such as a seige regiment for manning the coastal defence guns, the immortal Fourth battallion of Zeebrugge Raid fame, and Fourty Commando, part of the assault forces engaged in the raid on Dieppe in 1942, as well as some of those engaged in the Falklands campaign of 1982.

The North, South and East Barracks

1795 North and South Barracks built to accommodate the Infantry and Cavalry due to the army presence during titanic struggles with France between 1793 - 1815.

The South Barracks were known as the Cavalry Barracks as there were stables for 63 horses and accommodation for 53 men.

The Royal Navy Hospital was built in 1812 and later renamed the East Barracks in 1900 to accommodate 1861 recruits from Chatham, Portsmouth and Woolwich.

The North and South Barracks were, prior to the arrival of the Royal Marines, occupied by:

1793 - 1815 15th Light Dragoons during Napoleonic war
1816 - 1831 Blockade Men in the war against smugglers
1831 - 1840 Coastguards

Sadly on the 22nd September 1989 11 bandsmen were killed by an IRA bomb.

The Barracks were visited by the Duke of York (1928) the Queen Mother (1956) and Earl Mountbatten (1978)