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History of the DST

Leconfield was first used as a Royal Air Force (RAF) station in 1937. During the first three years of World War 2 it was primarily a fighter station and from 1942 it developed as a major bomber command base.

The Army first established the Army School of Mechanical Transport at Leconfield in 1977 as a result of the amalgamation of several military driver training establishments elsewhere in the country – the most notable of these were:

  • the Royal Corps of Transport Driver Training Regiment in Aldershot
  • the Mechanical Transport Wing of the Army School of Transport in Bordon

Since 1977, the Defence School of Transport (DST) has become the largest residential driver training establishment in the world. It provides courses for driving instructors, driving examiners, transport managers, instructors for specialist vehicles and training for all the non-combat arm signallers in the Army.

The annual throughput of students rose in 1996 to over 11,900, with up to 850 under instruction at any one time. Currently, throughput has reached over 16,000 with in excess of 1,200 under instruction at any one time.

The Gurkha Mechanical Transport School moved from Hong Kong to Leconfield in October 1993; 1994 saw the addition of the Royal Engineers and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers driver training organisations. The Royal Marines Driver Training School was incorporated in early 1995.

The transfer of RAF driver and transport management training from St Athan to Leconfield took place during the 1996/97 training year. Some civilian instructional staff transferred to DST, the first RAF students having arrived in the summer of 1996. These changes have led to increased employment opportunities at Leconfield. The permanent staff currently number 154 service personnel and 672 civilian employees. There are also some 150 contract staff permanently employed in the Barracks.

The construction of a cross-country driving circuit at Leconfield in the spring of 1994 removed the need to use the training area at Driffield. This enabled the School to reduce the number of military vehicles using local roads. The Adjutant General, Lieutenant General F R Viggers CMG MBE, formally opened ‘The Hill’. There are only three hills in close proximity to our test routes, two of which are on the outskirts of a local village which tend to be fully utilized as main test routes.

To alleviate this problem, a 1:8 hill was constructed on our training area to allow trainees to practice and be tested on ‘The Hill’ manoeuvre. This allows other testing routes in Hull to be further utilized, relieving traffic in currently congested areas.

We maintain close links with local councils, in particular East Riding of Yorkshire and Kingston-upon-Hull, to monitor and hopefully minimise the impact of our training on the local road network.

On 1 April 1996, the School assumed responsibility for training personnel of all three of the armed services, under the new title, the Defence School of Transport.