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Plans to demolish the RMA buildings

Editorial note: From the mid-1800s many plans were considered to move the RMA to healthier surroundings and to dispose of the property. These included one to build a new asylum (Duke of York's after 1880 of course) to High Wycombe, which was rejected on the grounds that, according to Surgeon MacGregor, the school's renowned medical authority, the area was "pestilential swamp fit for neither man nor beast". Many proposals were rejected over the years until, at last, a site at Dover was found and the underwriting provided to construct the premises that have been in use since 1909. A report appearing in The Times the following year centred on the proposed sale of the old RMA premises.

From The Times dated 9 April 1910

The accompanying plan, based on the Ordnance may, shows the situation of the Duke of York's Royal Military School, Chelsea, which is threatened with demolition while the sale of the school and the grounds, 12 acres ... are in danger of being covered with buildings.

The boys of the school have been removed to the new institution which has been erected at Guston, near Dover, at a cost of £215,346 according to the First Commissioner of Works, Mr. Harcourt, who was questioned upon the subject recently in the House of Commons, the sale of the Chelsea site is necessary in order to defray the cost of the new school. Mr. N. J. G. Hoare, M.P., urged, however, in a letter which appeared in The Times yesterday that the value of this site is at least £211,000, and suggested that if the eight acres of open space around the old school cannot be retained, at least a portion of the land, representing the surplus of about £100,000, which will presumably be realized by the sale, should be preserved in the public interest.

The Duke of York's School at Chelsea, was for more than a century one of the most prominent public buildings and one of the most cherished institutions in that part of London. The smart schoolboys in their scarlet jackets were familiar objects to several generations of Chelsea people. The school was erected between 1801 and 1803, in order to provide an asylum for the children of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the service of their country in the Napoleonic wars. The cost was defrayed out of money voted by Parliament for the purpose; the school, of course, was named after the Prince who was Commander-in-Chief of the Army at the time. For the last 20 years the strength of the establishment has been 550 boys and 40 students, these latter being older boys in training as Army schoolmasters. Although the boys are allowed to choose their own vocation in life 87 per cent. of them naturally join the Army, for which by their training and instruction are well suited.
The Duke of York's School, Chelsea

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