The Military History of Cannock Chase
Cannock Chase has a long military history. Its open
heathland landscape, central location, cheap land,
good transport links and plentiful supply of coal
made it particularly suitable for military training.
In the 1860s the War
relocating the nation’s
arsenal from Woolwich
to Cannock Chase, but
the scheme was never
In the autumn of 1873 Cannock
Chase was used for large-scale
manoeuvres involving cavalry,
artillery and infantry units of the
Regular Army. In the late 19th
century volunteer units used the
area for manoeuvres and set up
Men of the Army Service Corps stand outside the Field Bakery at Brocton Camp. They
are holding pallets laden with bread loaves for baking
in the brick and clay ovens.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Cannock Chase
The Great War Camps
During the Great War, two huge military training
camps – Brocton Camp and Rugeley (or Penkridge
Bank) Camp – were established on Cannock Chase.
Each was like a small town, with its own facilities
including chapels, banks and post offices. The
camps contributed to the development of transport
links in the area, as roads and railways were built
to serve them.
The post office at Brocton Camp, one of the two large military training
camps that were established on Cannock Chase during the Great War.
Image courtesy of Ray Smith
Cannock Chase’s military association
continued after the Great War. In
1939 an RAF training camp was
established here, in the area around
Cannock Chase Visitor Centre.
The WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) Wing Voluntary Band at RAF Hednesford. The Great Dane pictured in the centre was their mascot.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Mrs Godwin
Like the Great War camps, RAF Hednesford
functioned as a self-contained unit with a range
of its own facilities. Between 1950 and 1956 it
was used for National Service training, and from
1956, after an uprising against Communism in
Hungary, it became a resettlement camp for
In 1959 the site and most of its fittings were
put up for auction. In 1965 the land was
acquired by Staffordshire County Council and
became part of Cannock Chase Country Park.
The roads and the foundations of a few
buildings remain. There is a memorial stone and
self-guided trail though the Camp, and you will
find more information about RAF Hednesford in
the Visitor Centre.
This trail passes close to wildlife sites of
international importance. Cycle wheels,
horse hooves, and feet, can severely
damage these sites, and out of control
dogs disturb wildlife. Please help us to
protect wildlife by remaining on
designated routes and by keeping dogs
under close control