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Aldershot is a town in the Englishmarker county of Hampshire, located on heathland about 60 km (37 miles) southwest of Londonmarker. The town is administered by Rushmoor Borough Council. The town has a population of 33,840, whilst the Aldershot Urban Areamarker, a loose conurbation (which also includes other towns, such as Camberleymarker, Farnboroughmarker, and Farnhammarker) has a population of 243,344, making it the thirtieth-largest urban area in the UK.

Aldershot is known for its connection with the British Army which established a permanent camp in the area for instruction in military manoeuvres in 1854. This led to rapid growth from a small village to a Victorian town. Today, Aldershot is known as the "Home of the British Army". Aldershot is twinned with Sulechówmarker, Meudon and Oberurselmarker.


The name may have derived from "Alder", indicating that it was a wet, boggy place. Aldershot, Alreshete, dates back to an Anglo-Saxon settlement. Aldershot was included as part of the old Hundred of Crondallmarker referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086. The map of Hampshire in the 1722 edition of William Camden's Britannia or Geographical Description of Britain and Ireland shows a symbol for habitation in Aldershot in the Crundhal (Crondall) hundred.

Prior to 1850, Aldershott (as it was spelt then) was little known. The area was a vast stretch of common land, a lonely wasteland unsuitable for most forms of agriculture with and scant population. It was regarded as a dangerous area, the stretch of the Londonmarker to Winchestermarker turnpike that passed through it between Bagshotmarker and Farnhammarker (now known as the Farnborough Road) was the scene of highway robberies. There were many tales of highwaymen holding up coaches. Dick Turpin is said to have operated in the area having his headquarters near nearby Farnboroughmarker, and there were sightings of Springheeled Jack.

In 1854, at the time of the Crimean War, the heath land around Aldershot was established as an army base with Aldershot at its centre. This led to a rapid expansion of Aldershot's population going from 875 in 1851, to in excess of 16,000 by 1861 (including about 9,000 from the military). The town continued to grow, reaching a peak in the 1950s.

Queen Victoria was a regular visitor to Aldershot and a Royal pavilion was erected for her use. For her Jubilee Review (21 June 1887), 60,000 troops lined up in the Long Valley. They stretched from the Basingstoke Canalmarker to Caesar's Camp. Royalty and VIPs from all over Europe and the British Empire attended the event.

A substantial rebuilding of the barracks was carried out between 1961 and 1969 by Building Design Partnership. The town was designated an "Experimental Site" by the government and various new building technologies were employed with mixed success.

In 1974 Aldershot Borough and Farnboroughmarker Urban District were merged to form the Borough of Rushmoor under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972. It is claimed that Aldershot's town centre has declined in the latter half of the 20th century.

The Aldershot Military Tattoo

The Aldershot Military Tattoo was an international annual event. Between 1922 and 1939 the great Aldershot Military Searchlight Tattoo presented spectacular displays from all branches of the services. This was the premier military Tattoo in the UK during the inter-war years - before there was an Edinburgh Tattoo the Aldershot show took the lead for sheer scale and spectacle. Its post-war format, the Army Show, is held every year and still happens today.

1972 Aldershot bombing

The memorial to those people killed in the IRA attacks

On 22 February 1972 Aldershot experienced one of the worst mainlandmarker IRA attacks. Seven people, all civilian support staff, including cooks, cleaners, and a Catholic priest, were killed in a car bomb attack on the 16th Parachute Brigade headquarters mess at Aldershot. This blast was later claimed by the Official IRA as revenge for the shootings in Derrymarker that came to be known as Bloody Sunday. A memorial has since been built on the site of the attack. Until then the Army Town (as the area was then known) had been open-plan, but the attack led to immediate action to secure military property by erection of high fences topped with barbed wire, and other security measures including armed patrols. In the last thirty years since the attack, most regiments, notably the Parachute Brigades, have left Aldershot, either amalgamating with other regiments or having relocated elsewhere.

The demise of the once proud military town has created an opportunity for local government and planners to redevelop Aldershot's urban extension 'AUE' and sell off the area for homes. In August 2007 a request was made by Hampshire County Council to Aldershot magistrates to extinguish Highway rights from Defence estates of Pennefathers Road (the site of the bombing) as a public road. Although the road has been closed with controlled access since the tragedy, it was recently decided that with impending redevelopment it would be necessary to 'formalise the closure'. Following the bombing in 1972, it was decided to erect a memorial plaque in the grounds of a prominent new building approximately one mile away in Aldershot's town centre. However, this was soon rejected and once the building of the attack was demolished, the plaque was moved to replace it in its current position, on the actual site of the bombing. The grounds and the site of the memorial have remained and been beautifully preserved by the Army ever since. Perennial rumours suggest, that with the closure and demolishing of the former 16th Parachute brigade buildings and closure of the site making access to the memorial difficult, the plaque could once again be moved to a more public and easily accessible town centre location. However, after some debate and initial campaign by local press, and coverage by British Forces TV, it has been confirmed by the chief executive of Rushmore Borough Council, to the relief of all relatives and friends of the deceased, that steps have been taken to preserve the memorial including the site, even incorporating it in to a park area once development is complete.


The nearby villages of Ashmarker and Ash Valemarker are actually in Surreymarker, with both being part of Guildfordmarker Borough Council but they can have Aldershot as their post-town. This used to cause debates locally as some residents didn't want to put Hampshire as their address. The problem was solved when Royal Mail introduced postcodes meaning county names were no longer used in UK postal addresses.

The town is generally between 70 m and 100 m above sea level.

Aldershot Military Town

Sign for Aldershot Military Town
Aldershot Military Town is the area between Aldershot and the North Camp near Farnboroughmarker which is the location for all the military buildings, including married quarters, barracks, army playing fields and other sporting facilities, etc., mostly centred around Queen's Avenue. The military town includes the Aldershot Observatorymarker and the Aldershot Military Cemeterymarker, the Royal Garrison Church and other garrison churches, as well as barracks for The Royal Military Police. The town used to be the corps headquarters for the Royal Corps of Transport and the Army Catering Corps, these were merged into the Royal Logistic Corps in 1993 and moved to Deepcutmarker, however units of these corps remain in Aldershot.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert showed a keen interest in the establishment and development of Aldershot as a garrison town in the 1850s, at the time of the Crimean War, having a wooden Royal Pavilion built there which they would often stay in when attending reviews of the army. In 1860 Albert established and endowed the Prince Consort's Librarymarker there, which still exists today.

Aldershot Military Town is separate from the town of Aldershot and comes under its own military jurisdiction. It was the homebase for The Parachute Regiment from its formation in 1940 until it moved to Colchester Garrison in 2003. Many famous people have been associated with the Military Town, including Charlie Chaplin who made his first stage appearance in The Canteen theatre aged 5 in 1894, Winston Churchill, who was based here in the 19th century, and just about every famous British soldier of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The area also houses various military and regimental museums, including the Aldershot Military Museummarker, housed in a red-brick Victorian barracks. Until December 2007 the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Museummarker was in Aldershot Military Town. It is now at the Imperial War Museum Duxfordmarker.


Aldershot observatory

Aldershot observatory.

The observatory is a circular red-brick building with a domed roof and it stands on Queens Avenue. Inside is a telescope, 8-inch refractor, mounted on a German-type equatorial mount with a clockwork drive. The telescope and observatory building were a gift from aviation pioneer Patrick Young Alexander to the British Army, a fact which is recorded by a plaque near the observatory door. It reads: "Presented to the Aldershot Army Corps by Patrick Y Alexander Esq 1906".

Wellington Statue

1st Duke of Wellington astride Copenhagen

A statue of the first Duke of Wellington mounted on his horse, Copenhagen, is situated on Round Hill behind the Royal Garrison Church. The statue is high, from nose to tail, over in girth, weighs 40 tons and is intricately detailed including musculature and veins. It was designed and built by Matthew Cotes Wyatt who used recycled bronze from cannons that were captured at the Battle of Waterloomarker. It took thirty men over three years to finish the project.

Originally, in 1846, the statue was erected at Hyde Park Cornermarker, London on the Wellington Archmarker. However, Decimus Burton, architect of the arch, had tried to veto this plan for his preferred "figure in a four horse chariot". Many agreed with Decimus Burton that the statue looked ridiculous since it was out of proportion. It was nicknamed "The Archduke" and was a popular topic in the satirical magazine Punch.

Queen Victoria claimed that the statue ruined the view of the skyline from Buckingham Palacemarker, and she privately proposed that the statue be moved. The Duke, who had only sat for the sculptor on two or three occasions, suddenly became very attached to the statue and would not consider its removal from its arch.

In 1883, due to a road widening project, the arch was moved a short distance and now looks down Constitution Hill. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII ) wrote to the Prime Minister, Gladstone, "As regards the old colossal statue of the Duke. I would suggest that it should not be broken up but removed to Aldershot where it will be highly valued by the Army".

In 1885, the Prince of Wales handed over the monument to Lieutenant General Anderson, the commander of the Aldershot garrison."

Transport and communications

The railway stationmarker and bus station are both situated off Station Road. The former offers services to London Waterloomarker (2tph), Altonmarker (2tph), Guildfordmarker (2tph) and Ascotmarker (2tph).


There are various schools in Aldershot. A mix of infants and juniors, Park Primary School. The infant schools are Talavera and West End County And Bell Vue Infant School. Junior schools include: Newport County, St Michael's (C of E), Talavera, Beaumont County and St Joseph's Primary (Catholic). Aldershot has only one secondary school, The Connaught School.

Leisure and recreation

Theatre and the Arts

Princes Hallmarker is Aldershot's main theatre and concert hall, located on Princes Way. The Princes Hallmarker plays host to over 80 professional shows per year as well as a 3 week pantomime. Built in the 1970s and remodelled during 1982 the current seating capacity is 600.

The West End Centre is Aldershot's arts centre which is located on Queens Road. The centre offers a wide programme of events including music (from acoustic folk to thrash metal), comedy, theatre, workshops, classes and exhibitions.

Music and Dance


Vox (previously The Palace Cinema,The Rhythm Station, Cheeks), influenced the rapid growth of the hardcore scene from 1992 to 1995. Weekly events included Fusion (Hectic Records), Tazmania, Slammin' Vinyl and Future World. The club also groomed local talents such as Sharky, DJ Mystery, DJ Unknown, Vinyl Groover, DJ NS, Hixxy, MC Freestyle, MC Young, MC Smiley. The location of Aldershot between Southamptonmarker and Londonmarker meant the club became a mecca for Hardcore and it was regularly sold out during this time. At the height of the clubs popularity a teenagers death from a suspected overdose of Ecstasy was the catalyst that saw dance music leaving the club and had a negative impact on the hardcore dance scene in the Aldershot area.


A regular feature at The West End Centre and has included such artists as Glenn Tilbrook, Chris Difford, John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Martin Simpson, Lindisfarnemarker, Hans Theesink, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Moscow Flyer.

The Beatles in Aldershot

Sam Leach, their then agent, and wanting to become their manager, attempted to introduce The Beatles to London agents by promoting shows at The Palais Ballroom, on the corner of Perowne Street and Queens Road, in Aldershot, on December 9 1961. The show was not advertised properly and, as a result, only 18 people attended. The local newspaper, The Aldershot News, failed to publish Sam Leach's advertisement for the show. However, the band and friends had their own fun after the show, including a mock funeral for Paul McCartney. The failure at Aldershot became part of Beatles folklore. Weeks after this Brian Epstein became the group's manager.

Shopping in Aldershot

Aldershot was the principal retail centre in the Blackwater Valley, however, other centres have grown to compete for customers. Union Street and Wellington Street were pedestrianised in the 1970s when the Wellington Centre, a covered shopping centre, was built. In the 1990s, an extension of the Wellington Centre, The Galleries, provided extra shops, although nearly all are now closed. Local traders have claimed that this centre and its associated development are threatening the remaining independent shops operating in Aldershot. A local councillor has claimed "we have too many empty shops in the town", and it is a frequent complaint of local residents that the town has declined since the 1960s. In 2003, a health check of the town centre was published, the report concluded that "Aldershot is experiencing promising signs of revitalisation, particularly in the shopping core" Although, in 2005, Rushmoor Borough Council documented the percentage of vacancies at 10%, 8% and 7% respectively for Union Street, the Wellington Centre and Wellington street.


Aldershot plays host to many sports facilities such as Aldershot Tennis Centre, Aldershot Bowling, Aldershot Pools and Lido, Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre, Connaught Leisure Centre and Alpine Snow Sports (Dry Ski Centre). Formerly the town also hosted short circuit motor racing including speedway and Stock car racing. Greyhound Racing formerly took place at Aldershot Stadium, and Point to point racing at Tweseldownmarker.


Opened in 1930, Aldershot Lido is a traditional outdoor leisure pool that contains one and a half million gallons of water situated on a site. The original land was a lake that had become overgrown with weeds. It was bought by the Borough Council in 1920 for £21,000 and was the focus of the council's improvement projects for the town. The pool has extensive areas of shallow water for children to play including a large fountain at the centre. It also has a diving area and water slides. There is an adjoining 25 m indoor pool that allows all year round swimming.


The local professional football team is Aldershot Town who compete in the Football League. Before 1992 the local club was Aldershot, which folded on 25 March 1992, when members of the Football League Fourth Division. The current club was formed shortly afterwards and achieved five promotions in its first 16 seasons to return to the Football League in 2008. The previous Aldershot club's biggest success arguably came in 1987, just five years before closure, when they became the first team to win the Football League Fourth Division promotion playoffs, at the expense of a far bigger club - Wolverhampton Wanderers.


Aldershot Cricket Club is also based in the town. The club shares with the Aldershot hockey club and the Blackwater valley runners running and jogging club.

Rugby Union

Formerly known as Fleet RUFC, the club started in 1991 as a pub side. The club was renamed Aldershot and Fleet RUFC (A&F) after move in 2003 from Southwoods to their current home Aldershot Park. With an ever expanding juniors section, Aldershot & Fleet were successful in winning the Coveted RFU “Seal of Approval” Club of the Year 2008 for the southern region.

Greyhound racing

Took place regularly at Aldershot Stadium in Tonghammarker) during the 1950s.

Stock Car Racing

Together with other short-circuit formulae (including Superstox, Hot Rods, Bangers and Midgets) was held regularly (every Thursday evening, every Boxing Day afternoon and some Saturdays) at Aldershot Stadium (actually just across the Surreymarker county boundary in Tonghammarker) from the 1950s until the final meeting on 21 November 1992. Immediately after this date the site was cleared for construction of the A331 Blackwater Valley Road, which forms a by-pass for Aldershot and Farnborough. The racing took place initially on a loose shale track inside the greyhound track; after Motorcycle speedway racing at the venue ceased the shale track was replaced with a hard tarmaced surface. Now, short-circuit motor sport takes place in Aldershot again, at the Aldershot Raceway, Pegasus Village, Rushmoor Arena.

Speedway racing

Circa 1929, a track operated at a stadium in Boxalls Lane. Speedway returned to Aldershot in 1950 at the local greyhound stadium. The Shots featured in the lower echelons of the sport up to 1960.


The Aldershot lido pool was the site for the modern pentathlon and some of the equestrian events for the 1948 London Olympics. Part of the 2012 Olympics will be held in Aldershot. It was announced on 15th January 2008 that the Aldershot Military Town had been chosen as the official training camp for the British Olympic team ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.


The local press are the Aldershot News & Mail, a broadsheet, and the Surrey-Hants Star Courier, a free tabloid. Aldershot is the home of Ashgate Publishing, which publishes books on musicology, among other things. The local BBC TV news is BBC South Today. Aldershot is covered on BBC radio by BBC Surrey (which covers Surrey & North-East Hampshire on 104.6FM).


Aldershot is divided into the following wards:

  • Rowhill: southwest of the town
  • Wellington: west, north and centre of the town
  • Manor Park: south of the town
  • Heron Wood: southeast of the town
  • North Town: northeast of the town.

Wellington Ward is quite unique, as it combines the most compact urban parts of the town (the town centre and Cargate Hill) with a very large acerage of unpopulated woodlands, forests and heathland.

Rowhill and Manor Park wards are the most affluent of the 5 wards, in particular in the areas closer to Farnham.

The town is represented in parliament through the Aldershot constituencymarker. The current MP is Gerald Howarth (Conservative), with a majority of 5,334 (May 2005). Of the 41 councillors on Rushmoor Borough Council, 15 represent the five wards that comprise Aldershot. Of these councillors elected since the last local elections in May 2008, nine are Conservative, five represent Labour while one represents the Liberal Democrats

Famous people from Aldershot

See List of famous people from Aldershot

In literature

Rudyard Kipling referenced Aldershot in his poem "Gunga Din".


Sir John Betjeman also mentions Aldershot in the poem "A Subaltern's Love Song"


Aldershot appears as Quartershot in Thomas Hardy's novels.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set the short story The Adventure of the Crooked Man in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmesin Aldershot. Holmes suspects a deformed beggar knows what caused Colonel James Barclay's sudden death during an argument with his wife.

P. G. Wodehouse set several episodes of his early school stories in Aldershot, at a convocation of British public school athletes. He refers to the Queen's Avenue gymnasium as the site of the boxing matches there. He mentions this convocation in The Gold Bat, The White Feather, and The Pothunters.

See also


  1. Cole, 1980. p. 1.
  2. BDP (1963), The Rebuilding of Aldershot, Preston: BDP.
  3. Hutchinson
  4. Roger Kennedy
  5. On this day in history BBC article on Aldershot bombing
  9. Aldershot infant schools
  10. Junior schools
  11. Secondary Schools
  12. Princes Hall official web site
  13. Ecstasy may have caused teenager's nightclub death, Independent, The (London), January 29, 1996
  16. Aldershot to host GB Olympic team BBC article on Aldershot
  17. Map for the wards of Aldershot
  18. Aldershot wards with respect to the local election of May 2006

External links

  • - Rushmoor Borough Council, covers Aldershot
  • - The Aldershot Civic Society
  • - Pre-WW2 letters from Aldershot detailing a new recruits life
  • - Aldershot Military Museum
  • ( Archived 2009-10-25) - Aldershot, a pictorial review
  • - History of Aldershot's Theatres and Music Halls
  • - Historic Farnborough, the boundaries between Farnborough and Aldershot have changed over the years with the old barracks bordering both towns
  • - Brickfields Country Park - located within 500m of Aldershot town centre is 7.5 acres of Country Park, a wildlife haven and possibly the smallest Country Park in the UK

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