Colchester: Campaigners’ museum hopes for old barracks buildings

Jess Jephcott wants to develop a military history museum and is concerned about preserving the Victo

Jess Jephcott wants to develop a military history museum and is concerned about preserving the Victorian buildings at the former Cavalry barracks in the town. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting to save historic barracks buildings in Colchester hope they might be able use one to house a museum to the town’s military past.

The former Cavalry buildings, off Butt Road, date back to 1860 and have been redundant since the new Merville Garrison was built.

The site is currently owned by developer Bovis Homes, which has converted some into modern properties, but has recently had plans to demolish others refused on planning appeal.

Now enthusiasts from the newly-formed Colchester Heritage Trust hope the firm might consider making one available for them. The redundant buildings include an old mess hall, a former billiards room, stables and living quarters.

Trust member Jess Jephcott said: “Bovis has done a superb job in converting the buildings they have done so far but we want to see the others preserved.

“They are an important part of Colchester’s history – one that has been neglected – and thousands of people would have been stationed there at times.

“We would like to use one of the buildings as a museum to hold collections of guns and tanks, and documents and are hoping Bovis might gift one or make it available for sale. We are very much in the early days and the chances are unlikely at this stage.”

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Mr Jephcott said the group want people from the community to get in touch if they have any items or details that might enhance a museum.

He added: “We want to hear from anyone who has information about life at the barracks – maybe people whose relatives were stationed here. We are looking to build a database of information and get some personal stories of what life was like.

“We feel this could become a popular visitor attraction and we hope we might be able to have something in place by 2018 to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the cessation of the First World War.”

Hamish Buttle, Bovis Homes regional senior planning manager, said: “We will be looking at our options for the site and hope to resume our discussions with the council over the coming weeks.”

To contact Mr Jephcott email JessJephcott@aol.com or call 01206 240788.

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