The Vikings have been stationed in Pirbright since 1997, and whilst the former Guards Depot used to strike fear into the hearts of everyone, it really has become quite a civilised place now. Many of us will have had experience of the area through Drill Courses or competing at Bisley Ranges which are nearby. The area is steeped in history both military and civilian. Many of the military stationed in or around the area will miss out on a great deal of the heritage because so often locations such as Aldershot and Pirbright are seen as no more than Garrison Towns.
The range complex at Bisley has a well deserved reputation as the Mecca of shooting, the ranges actually belong to the National Rifle Association and the Army hire them for their use. The National Rifle Association used to have their range complex in Wimbledon, but as London increased in size this became difficult to support and hence the move to Bisley. London’s expansion also meant that the cemeteries in the centre of London could no longer cope with burials and a cemetery was established in Brookwood, which was deemed to be a convenient train journey from the City, for use by the people of the City of London.
Those shooting in the Army |Championships at Bisley would also have to use the Electric Target Ranges (ETR) at Pirbright Camp, and a walk along the old disused railway line between the two locations a never forgotten experience. The area was riddled with Rhodadenrum bushes and provided the perfect setting to display the different attitudes of the firers about to shoot, deep in concentration and suffering from nerves, in comparison with those who had shot, showing clear signs of disappointment or elation dependent on their results.
There is also an excellent Brookwood Commonwealth Graves Cemetery, on the edge of Pirbright Village, which is well worth a visit and tucked away out of sight is the plot dedicated to the Chelsea Pensioners which again should not be missed.