Dining was cold comfort at Eastney barracks

Keep off the grass ' the Royal Marine Artillery Barracks parade ground and lawns at Eastney, Portsmouth, pictured about 1875
Keep off the grass ' the Royal Marine Artillery Barracks parade ground and lawns at Eastney, Portsmouth, pictured about 1875
Two clerks on duty in James Taylors offices in Old Portsmouth. 			 (Robert James collection)

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Eastney barracks has become part upmarket housing, part museum. Built in the 1860s it passed through several designations to become the HQ for all Royal Marines Hampshire establishments in 1947 and finally headquarters for training, reserve and special forces until its closure in 1991.

The Barracks was a classic military enclave within a civilian world, with its own church, water tower, library, gym, theatre (later cinema), school, drill hall, drill field (later a sports field) and officers’ mess.

It was from its dining hall that the Kaiser, who would be the leading player in the First World War, watched a mock attack staged on the sports field. His comments on British military prowess were not recorded.

This dining hall was reputedly so cold in winter that the officers would wear their greatcoats to dinner.