The tale of two Ripons - the city and the camp

The army camp at Ripon
The army camp at Ripon

Hundred and thousands of men who signed up to fight on the front line passed through the army camp in Ripon.

The huge 1,000 acre site trained an estimated 350,000 men to be soldiers before they headed to the battle fields of Europe during the First World War.

“It was an incredibly important place,” said Derek Edmondson, vice chairman of the Ripon Historical Society.

“It was the biggest in the North, around 30,000 soldiers were based there at any one time and the regiments did not stay for long.”

He added: “The camp would have had a huge impact on the town and the people of Ripon. As soon as the war broke out the local territorials went off to camp then away to the continent to fight.”

Army Territorials had held their annual summer training camps on sites to the south and west of Ripon for many years and upon the outbreak of war Ripon City Council suggested that the War Office should set up permanent facilities for troops in training for the Front.

Negotiations for the Ripon Camp began just one month after war was declared. The total expenditure for building the facility was £350,000 and it was completed in April 1915.

The building of the huge camp made headline news in the Ripon Gazette and provoked much change in the City of Ripon.

In 1915, the Yorkshire Post reported: “Ripon is fast losing its air of old-world serenity and possibly forever.

“There are now two Ripons - the old and the new, the city and the camp. Nowhere has the war brought greater transformation.”