Catterick Garrison is a major garrison and town three miles (4.8 km) south of Richmond in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, England. It is the largest British Army garrison in the world with a population of around 13,000 and measuring over 2,400 acres, however under plans announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in November 2005, the population of Catterick Garrison is expected to grow to over 25,000 by 2020, making it the largest population centre in the local area.
The siting of the garrison was first recommended by Robert Baden-Powell who founded the Scouting movement in 1908 whilst he, as Inspector-General of Cavalry, was based at the army barracks—at that time located in Richmond Castle. On 12 August 1914, the order was issued for the construction of the camp, following the outbreak of the First World War. The original intention for Catterick was to be a temporary camp to accommodate two complete divisions with around 40,000 men in 2,000 huts.
The base was originally named Richmond Camp until being changed to Catterick Camp in 1915, later modified to Catterick Garrison. After serving as a prisoner of war camp at the end of the War, the idea to make Catterick a permanent military barracks was first suggested after the partitioning of Ireland in 1921, the required land was purchased and building plans were put forward in 1923. Construction was undertaken by John Laing & Son and by the mid-1930s most of the camp’s facilities were complete. During the Second World War the camp was once again used to house prisoners of war.
The Garrison has schools, a central Sports/Leisure Centre and an array of shops, pubs and places to eat. Indeed, the recent opening of the Princes Gate shopping centre in the heart of the garrison shows just how thriving the area now is.
Within the Garrison we have our own nationally recognised nature reserve at Foxglove Covert. Two of England’s most beautiful National Parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors, are only a short drive away. The Lake District is also just 90 minutes’ drive to the west.
Richmond is just a few minutes’ drive or a short walk from the Garrison and offers a diverse selection of shops and restaurants in a picturesque setting. Slightly further afield, Darlington, Northallerton, Ripon and Thirsk offer alternatives and are equally appealing in their own right. York, Durham, Leeds and Newcastle are all fascinating cities, and are very accessible via the A1.
The Garrison is criss-crossed by a network of bike and footpaths connecting barracks, housing areas and other facilities. This network connects also with many public rights of way across local countryside that provides marvellous opportunities for cycling, riding, running and walking.