From August 1914, the vast Swaythling Remount Depot was constructed at North Stoneham Park and Bassett, on the edge of Southampton, to collect, sort, and supply horses and mules for war service. It was one of the four principal remount depots in England; the others were at Romsey (also for Southampton), Shirehampton (for Avonmouth), and Ormskirk (for Liverpool).
The Swaythling Remount Depot was the centre from which nearly all horses and mules from England were given a 'final overhauling' and dispatched across the Channel to France. At the end of the war, the Depot also received the returning animals.
Up until 11 December 1918, the Depot processed 390,741 animals, of which 386,194 passed out.
The Depot comprised 10 remount squadrons and 1 personnel squadron, and had a total strength of 2,360 persons at any one time. The Depot also trained men: 5,800 were sent from Swaythling overseas in Remount Service. In total, about 25,000 men passed through the Depot. Women also worked in the Depot, in the Forage Corps.
The Depot covered a large area, sprawling over adjoining farmland, and was divided into the North Camp (pictured on page banner above), the South Camp, and the Veterinary Hospital. The two main camps had an extensive narrow gauge railway network. The South Camp alone comprised at least 163 galvanised currugated iron hutments, with canteens, 2 kitchens, stores, harness rooms, 5 shoeing sheds and forges, 7 dining halls, 86 barrack huts, forage barns, and 30 horse shelters. The Veterinary Hospital had at least 48 iron hutments, with barrack huts, horse shelters, timbered loose boxes, dining huts, forage barns, a forge, shoeing mixing and dressing sheds, canteens, offices, stores, as well as a timber corral and horse dip.
The Remount Depot was dismantled in 1920, but the site took several years to clear.
We would like to hear from anyone researching people - or animals - who worked at, or passed through, the Swaythling Remount Depot: contact details.