Cowley Barracks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cowley Barracks
Cowley Barracks.jpg
Cowley Barracks showing the original keep
Cowley Barracks is located in Oxfordshire
Cowley Barracks
Cowley Barracks
Location within Oxfordshire
Coordinates51°44′31″N 1°12′09″W / 51.74184°N 1.20243°W / 51.74184; -1.20243Coordinates: 51°44′31″N 1°12′09″W / 51.74184°N 1.20243°W / 51.74184; -1.20243
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
Operator British Army
Site history
Built forWar Office
In use1876–1959
Garrison information
OccupantsOxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Cowley Barracks (originally Bullingdon Barracks) was a military installation in Cowley, Oxfordshire, England.


Headstone in St James' parish churchyard, Cowley, Oxfordshire of George and Sarah Stone. George had been Depot Sergeant Major in the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, presumably at Cowley Barracks. An eroded trace of the number "52" is visible in the regimental badge carved at the top of the stone.

The barracks were built in a Fortress Gothic Revival style at Bullingdon Green using Charlbury stone[1] and completed in spring 1876.[2] Their creation took place as part of the Cardwell Reforms which encouraged the localisation of British military forces.[3] The barracks became the depot for the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot and the 85th Regiment of Foot (Bucks Volunteers).[4] Following the Childers Reforms, the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) and the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot amalgamated to form the Oxfordshire Light Infantry with its depot at the barracks in 1881.[4]

Following the Haldane Reforms the Oxfordshire Light Infantry became the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1908. Many recruits enlisted at the barracks during the early stages of the First World War.[5]

The original proposal for the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry War Memorial was to site it outside the barracks. No suitable site could be found there so instead it was built on Rose Hill at the junction with Church Cowley Road.[6]

The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Museum was established at the barracks in 1925[7] and during the Second World War the barracks were used as a base for the Home Guard.[8]

The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry left the barracks in 1959 and, although the men's quarters were retained, the keep was subsequently demolished.[2] The museum collection moved from Cowley Barracks to the Slade Park Territorial Army base at that time.[9]

Between 1980 and 1992 the national headquarters of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation was located on the site. Co-located with this organisation was the Headquarters of No 3 Oxford Group Royal Observer Corps. The site now belongs to Oxford Brookes University, which has built student accommodation on the site.[10]


  1. ^ Lobel, Mary D, ed. (1957). "Cowley". A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. V: Bullingdon Hundred. London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research. pp. 76–96. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Cowley Barracks". Oxfordshire History. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Echoes of the past in these Army cuts". The Daily Telegraph. 8 July 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Training Depots". Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ "Ben Reeve". Life stories and memories. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry War Memorial  (Grade II) (1369419)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  7. ^ "About the history of the museum". The Royal Green Jackets Museum. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  8. ^ "All quiet on the home front". Telegraph & Argus. Newsquest. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  9. ^ "New museum honours county's Army history". Witney Gazette. Newsquest. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Oxford: ROC Group HQ No 3". Subterranea Britannica. Retrieved 8 November 2014.