Kempston Barracks was built as the headquarters of the 16th Regiment of Foot, which became The Bedfordshire Regiment in 1881, and in 1918 the name was changed to The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment until in 1958 with the amalgamation with the Essex Regiment they became The Royal Anglican Regiment.
The building of the barracks began in 1874 and was completed in 1876 at a cost of about 50,000 with the first troops arriving on the 29th May 1877. Although quarters were provided for married soldiers many lived in Kempston, especially in the rapidly growing New Town and many remained as permanent residents when they left the regiment. The barracks played an important part in Kempston life with over 40,000 signing up there during the First World War.
By the 1930s much of the old accommodation in the depot had become inadequate and extensive improvements were made including the provision of new married quarters and the Officers Mess.
Early in the Second World War the depot ceased to be the recruiting and training centre for the Regiment, these functions being transferred to Bury St. Edmonds. For the rest of the war the Barracks were used as a convalescence centre. In 1940 the Barracks suffered some damage when a German land mine fell behind the Regimental War memorial. After the 1958 amalgamation the Keep became empty and there was talk of demolition. However, the Bedford Freemasons purchased the Keep in 1981 to be used for Masonic Meetings.
The Newspaper Cuttings Collection, Local Studies Library, Bedford Central Library.
CARNELL, H.A. ed. Eight Thousand Years A Kempston History. 1966.
WALKER, V. Old Kempston. 2001.
Kempston Barracks, Kempston by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2011
Page last updated: 30th January 2014