War Department stones in Oxford

This type of Ordnance Survey Marker is marked WD (War Department), with the the department's broad arrow pointing upwards between those two letters. They mark the boundaries of land owned (or formerly owned) by the War Department.

In Oxford four War Department stones marked the corners of Cowley Barracks, and they are shown on the map below, which dates from 1878. Three of the stones survive today.

Barracks stone 1

W D No. 1
Outside 222 Hollow Way
marking the front right corner of the barracks land

W D No. 2

W D No. 2
On Hollow Way, opp. Dene Road, just to left of wall
marking the front left corner of the barracks land

Barracks stone 3

W D No. 3
On the corner of Fletcher Road and Eastfield Place
marking the back left corner of the barracks land

W D No. 4
This stone marking the back right corner of the barracks land
seems to have disappeared, but the 1878 map
below shows that it should be on the North-West
side of Brasenose Driftway


Information on W.D. stones installed since the 1920s,
kindly supplied by Ian Meadows

Marker stones were only erected at the First World War stations/camps that became permanent bases after that war. Most were erected between 1926 and 1929 and were the result of the decision made by the Salisbury Committee that the Air Ministry/War Department should own the land on which their buildings stood instead of only the buildings as in the case of WWI. These stones were erected where there is a change in direction of boundary. There were at least two types, a large one and a smaller version. Each one has a unique number to that station and around 20 or more were erected at each site.

The post-war Royal Observer Corps stones follow the same principle as their 1920s counterpart but do not appear to be numbered.




Map of 1878 showing Cowley Barracks

This map shows that the War Department stones marking the corners of Cowley Barracks were already in place by 1878.
The W.D. 3 stone is off the edge of this map, and would be shown on the next sheet.
The W.D. 4 stone that is missing today can be seen at the bottom right on Brasenose Driftway

1878 map

Map with red markers showing the position of surviving stones W.D. 1, 2, and 3 today

Cowley Barracks

Back of Cowley Barracks

Stephanie Jenkins