Topsham Barracks

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Topsham Barracks

Postby CliveA » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:37 pm

My grandfather (William Francis Armstrong) was born at Topson Barracks in 1880. His father was in the Royal Artillery at the time. Can anybody please tell me how to find out which regiments were stationed at the barracks in 1880, and where they at the site of Wyvern barracks, in Barrack Road?

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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby Peter Hinchliffe » Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:06 pm

The barracks between Barrack Road, Dryden Road, and Topsham Road were known as Topsham Barracks until about 1960, they were the Depot of the Devonshire Regiment until the amalgamation with the Dorset Regiment. It was also the basic training depot for those two, plus, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, and Royal Hampshire Regiments, which formed the Wessex Brigade, known by the symbol of the "Wyvern" (mythical winged reptile with dragons head) Hence the name Wyvern Barracks.

I do believe that the Royal Artillery were at the barracks before the first world war. My wife has forebears who were RA and stationed there, another member of her family was a cavalryman and came there about the time you are interested in, he moved down from a barracks in Hounslow)

The Royal Artillery were also at Higher Barracks at some stage of the last century.
Peter Hinchliffe
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby Sydney Rowsell » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:29 pm

Topsham Barracks was home to the Royal Artillery for many years, I remember visiting my cousin and her husband Frank Voss who was an instructor living in Married Quarters there during the war years (about 1941). My wife's step father, Dick Green, a regular soldier was stationed there in 1934 when their unit returned after six years in India. The last Artillery unit stationed there was 55th Medium Regt and they left during the late 1950's, then the barracks was refurbished and renamed Wyvern Barracks. During my army service in 1946-48 in the R.A.Medical Corps I regularly carried out Hygiene inspections at Topsham Barracks and made reports to the Deputy Asst. Director of Hygiene at District H.Q's at Taunton. Other units at T.B. at the time were the R.A.Service Corps which operated A Command Supply Depot where we drew our rations for our small medical unit staioned at Higher Barracks and there was also a depot holding unit of the Devonshire Regt.
Syd Rowsell.
Sydney Rowsell
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby dick passmore » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:00 pm

Topsham Barracks certainly existed prior to 1880 when your grandfather was born. In 1878 the Commissariat Officer was Captain George Parkyn, but unfortunately I have no idea what Regiment he served under. I would suggest you contact The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester ( who will doubtless have records of the regiments stationed at Topsham Barracks, and possibly details of personnel.
dick passmore
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby david » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:50 pm

My Grandfather was a CSM with the Devonshire Regt, at the time of his retirement in 1931 he was stationed at Higher Barracks. I have a great photograph of him stood outside the main gate with a team of machine gunners on the back of a lorry, during a recruiting drive for the TA (Territorial Force) i think. A shame they moved the Devonshire Regiment museum from Wyvern Barracks to Dorchester, the very heart of the Devonshire Regt is Exeter.
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby Tenacious » Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:51 pm

I have just been reading the postings (excuse the unintended pun) and find them very interesting - and possibly very informative for me!) but, could I just ask where Topsham Barracks were situated, please? I had ancestral relatives (only recently discovered) at St Leonard's Wharf in 1873/4 who then were in India - I now realize posted there! I am FASCINATED by the snippets of information which all help me to put together at least a little of the puzzle of my newly-discovered family!!
Thank you for the insights!! - Tenacious!!
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby David Cornforth » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:10 pm

Topsham Barracks still exists Tenacious. It is situated on a large corner plot between Topsham Road and Barrack Road. It's now known as Wyvern Barracks. Use Google satellite view to find it.

Also use the search facility on the main site for other mentions of Topsham Barracks. Also, see the for some footage of soldiers at the barracks in 1925.

David Cornforth
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby Tenacious » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:15 pm

Dear David - Many thanks for the suggestions! - if Topsham Barracks aren't near St Leonard's Wharf (I will look) then I wonder if there were Barracks at the Wharf also, and which soldiers were stationed there. My ancestors lived next door to The Port Royal Inn - I've just found my relative (through marriage) was a Corporal in the Royal Artillery. I think the military connection in Exeter goes back much further. I wonder if there are still relatives in Exeter!! With thanks, again! Tenacious
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby Daffyd » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:19 am

Many soldiers at the barracks lived along Holloway Street and the streets off. The Port Royal is not far - probably three quarters of a mile, a short distance for a Victorian. I know of one soldier who lived with his family at the Hour Glass pub, only a couple of hundred yards from the Port Royal.
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Re: Topsham Barracks

Postby Tenacious » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:43 am

Dear David,
Thank you so much for your message - I will have to Google the area. My familial connection lived at the premises next door to The Port Royal, but also there was a Major General of the same name, who lived earlier, and was resident in Heavitree when he passed away - I don't know if St Leonard's Wharf is in Heavitree, I have to look that up. I wondered if there was connection between my connection and the Licensees of The Port Royal as my connection became a Licensee himself later, but probably not - perhaps the profession suited the family and was profitable and therefore that was the career he/they followed. Thank you for the information - I will look up the links you suggest, and look for pictures of that time. Many thanks, again! Kind Regards, Tenacious
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