Army Apprentices School, Harrogate

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Army Apprentices School, Harrogate

Coordinates: 53°59′46″N 1°35′46″W / 53.996°N 1.596°W / 53.996; -1.596

The Army Apprentices School, Harrogate (AAS Harrogate), established in 1947, was sited either side of Penny Pot Lane, outside Harrogate using Uniacke and Hildebrande Barracks. The School was renamed the Army Apprentices College, Harrogate (AAC Harrogate) in 1966 (in line with other such establishments) and thus remained so until its eventual closure after the Final Graduation Parade on 2 August 1996 of intake 94C.

The early years
  • Trade Training

The trades taught at the school in the 1950s, divided into categories according to which Corps the apprentices would join on completion of their course, (each course usually lasting three years at that time) were:

    • ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS – Clerks (two year course) (Moved elsewhere in late 1955—certainly by 1970 the ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS were training All Arms Clerks in their Depot at Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey)
    • ROYAL ARTILLERY – Artillery surveyors
    • ROYAL ENGINEERS – Architectural draughtsmen - Bricklayers – Carpenters and joiners – Electricians – Land surveyors and map makers – Painters and decorators – Plumbers and pipefitters – Quantity surveying assistants
    • ROYAL SIGNALS – Mechanics (Line, Radio, Telegraph) – Operators (wireless and line, Keyboard)
  • Redeployment

The RE Survey wing (Royal Engineers land surveyors and mapmakers) moved from AAS Harrogate to AAS Chepstow over a period of a year between 1960 and 1961. Survey apprentices were trained there until Chepstow Army Apprentices College (as it had become in 1966) was finally closed in 1994.

  • After Harrogate
    • RASC apprentices
    • RA apprentices
    • RE all re apprentices moved to Chepstow between 1959 and 1960 except the electricians who were on a three year educational course at Leeds tech.
      • RE Survey apprentices: RE Survey has its own self-contained units within the Royal Engineers and therefore the Army-trained surveyors (including field surveyors, air surveyors, cartographic draughtsmen, printers, and Photo techs), whether they were trained at the Apprentice schools or were direct entry to the School of Military Survey at Hermitage near Newbury, were usually posted to specific survey units after training. This meant that they formed a fairly close-knit community throughout their service, knowing, serving with or hearing of the other surveyors in the community. Many of them have kept in touch with each other since leaving the Army, both through personal contact and by being members of the Royal Engineers Association (REA) and in 1999 the Military Survey (Geographic) Branch of the REA was formed.
  • Updates
    • RE
      • RE Survey apprentices: In January 2006 the Survey Branch REA website was launched and already contains many articles and photographs, contributed mostly by the surveyors themselves, of the history and achievements of British Military surveying, mostly post World War II. The site covers the training units (Apprentice schools at Harrogate and Chepstow and the Royal School of Military Survey at the Hermitage, Newbury) as well as the production units: 14 Field Survey Squadron (Rath, Rathigen Germany, opposite the Mannesmann Röhren Gross lager), 13 Field Survey Squadron, 42 Survey Engineer Regiment (Longparish near Andover before moving to Hermitage), consisting of 19 Topographic Squadron, 84 (Field) Survey Squadron, 89 Field Survey Squadron, 1 Air Survey Liaison Section (ASLS), 6 ASLS, 1 Radar Air Survey Liaison Section, 2 Army Field Survey Depot, 47 GHQ Survey Squadron, 135 Survey Engineer Regiment (TA), JARIC. These units served in, and in many cases mapped, the following places (post WWII): U.K., Aden Protectorates (now part of Yemen), Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Malaya, Oman, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (Trucial States), Nepal, Norway, as well as sending detachments to Christmas Island in the Pacific and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and other places throughout the world.

In 1968 under the stewardship of S/Sgt Alan Dobison the AAC Harrogate football team of Scott Sqn became the 1st AAC team to retain the Army AAC's FA Cup. In a thrilling final in 1967 they defeated Phillips Sqn of Harrogate 7 - 6 in a mud bath after being 6 - 1 down at half time. In 1968 they defeated AAC Arborfield 2 - 1 in another exciting final. A feat which was remarkable because Scott Sqn "lost" 8 members of the 1967 team who had passed out from the College.

The classification of squadrons as trade-based occurred in late 1969, before to this the trades were mixed. Prior to the split there were five squadrons; Penney, Philips, Scott, Rawson and the Recruit Squadron. After the reorganisation, Recruit Squadron was disbanded and recruits were trained in their own trade squadron. The initial formations were: Penney (Technicians), Philips (Technicians), Rawson (Tg Ops, A Ops, and Spec Ops), Scott (Tg Ops, A Ops, and Spec Ops), Bradley (B Ops). The reorganisation, together with the welcome change to the Army Catering Corps handling the cookhouse, was done under the new Commandant, Col Johnnie Clinch.

The secondary form of competition but equally as important was the 'Triangular Games', which was an athletics and indoor sports event that was hosted annually (in rotation) by the three co-existing Army Apprentices Colleges of the Royal Corps of Signals, The Royal Engineers and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, respectively.

The Champion Squadron competition was a physically punishing event. Its most feared (in case of selection) was the CBT event where a team of 6–8 squaddies had to do 1.5 miles (in full SOP) around the camp road circuit whilst carrying the equivalent in weight of an injured soldier on a stretcher. This was always measured using three full jerry-cans of water.


In September 1991, a landmark factual event for the College was that it accepted female new recruits. The Royal Corps of Signals has traditionally - since the 1980s - had a large share of female intake. Previously, all female Royal Signals recruits were put through basic training at Guildford (home of the Womans Royal Army Corps) and then, Catterick, North Yorkshire, UK - home of the Royal Signals until 1993, when it completely shifted operations to Blandford, Dorset.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via