FOR a long time it has been a boarded-up, overgrown mess. But the grounds of Preston Barracks off Lewes Road, Brighton, hold a fair bit of history.

The site dates back to the late-1700s when there were fears Napoleon might have invaded England, taking a direct route to London from the coast by landing troops near Brighton.

The barracks were initially just a cluster of temporary huts but these were soon replaced by brick buildings, including a canteen and stabling for more than 1,000 horses.

Separate married quarters were added in the 1850s and in about 1900 a blacksmith’s forge and school block on the northern edge were demolished to make way for a more modern and impressive officers’ mess, which we believe is in shot in the main picture. The exterior of the original Regency buildings were hardly altered.

In more recent years the site was home to the Intelligence Corps, Royal Corps of Signals and cadet units. Its closure came as a shock to many in 1999 and, despite plans to revamp it, the site is still to find a new use.