You may have seen the Hightown Barracks building as you go along Kingsmill Road and wondered what secrets lay behind its walls and impressive buildings. I was curious too, so I arranged to meet Captain Steven Davies and Major Gareth Jones to learn more.
Hightown Barracks was completed in 1877 as part of the Cardwell Reforms before becoming a depot for two regular battalions of the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF). WWI saw soldiers enlisted at the barracks, and there was a commando unit based there during WW2. The camp was empty for 10 years after it closed as a regiment training depot of the RWF in 1960. It reopened as a battalion headquarters and Company location of the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion, RWF in 1970.
The headquarters moved to Maindy Barracks in Cardiff, leaving A Company of The Royal Welsh Regiment at Hightown Barracks. The 101st Battalion, The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) took over the Hightown Barracks site in the same year.
In 2018, the 101st REME merged with the 105th and moved to Bristol. The Station Support Unit formed under the 160th (Welsh) Brigade to manage the site.
A Multipurpose Camp
The barracks were in danger of closing in 2018. However, Lieutenant Colonel Lock, the Head of Establishment, Captain Davies and Major Jones have been instrumental in converting the site into a busy, multipurpose camp. Today it hosts Army Fit classes in the Motor Transport sheds, and an intake of Wrexham students as part of the Motivational Preparation and Training College (MPTC) programme.
The current occupants are a Company, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Welsh, the Wrexham Detachment of the 203 Field Hospital and the 398th Transport Squadren, RLC, workshops. It is also home to the Royal Welsh Regimental HQ (North), the Clwyd and Gwynedd Army Cadet Force, C Squadron Air Training Corps and the Station Support Unit.
Plans for the site include the introduction of the Defence Mental Health Clinic. It will serve North and Mid-Wales as well as the North West England region. The barracks also carry out several local support activities. It is an assembly area for military units when allocated to provide Military Aid to Civil Authorities. There is also a 64-bed accommodation block to support operation and training exercises held in the region.
The 160th (Welsh) Brigade, Driver training uses the barracks as a training facility for their North Wales units. The Defence Helicopter Flying School at Shawbury, Shropshire, commonly uses the barracks helipad for training purposes. The barracks also act as a community engagement and recruiting and outreach facility for North Wales activities.
They have a packed programme for Wrexham coming up. On the 12th July, there is a Queens Dragoon Guards Freedom event. 3rd September, is the turn of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Welsh, to celebrate their Freedom Event and Comrades Weekend.
A statue depicting the RWF Goat Major and the regimental goat will be unveiled outside the barracks on 1st March 2023. Renowned North Wales Sculptor, Nick Elphic was commissioned to make the sculpture in bronze.