The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in Surrey, more commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is where all officers in the British Army are trained to take on the responsibilities of leading the soldiers under their command. The Academy’s stated aim is to be “the national centre of excellence for leadership.” All British Army officers, including late entry officers who were previously Warrant Officers, as well as many from elsewhere in the world, are trained at Sandhurst.
The Academy is the British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Royal Air Force College Cranwell and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. The roots of the present Royal Military Academy Sandhurst lie in two separate institutions. Firstly a Military Academy was established at Woolwich (a district now absorbed into south-east London) in 1720 to train cadets for commissions in the Royal Artillery, moving to a permanent location at Woolwich Common in 1806 and being granted Royal status in 1841, subsequently known as the “Shop”.
In 1806, the Royal Military Academy also took on the training of Royal Engineers officer cadets and, later, Royal Signals cadets. Secondly, in 1799, a school for staff officers was established at High Wycombe and in 1801 it became the Senior Department of the Royal Military College (RMC). The concept of the Royal Military College was the brainchild of John Le Marchant. He opened the Junior Department of the College at West Street in Marlow in 1802 to train “Gentleman Cadets” for the infantry, cavalry and Indian Army.
The Junior Department moved from Marlow in 1813 into the present buildings designed by James Wyatt at Sandhurst. A few years later, the Junior Department was joined at Sandhurst from High Wycombe by the Senior Department, which in 1858 became a separate institution, the Staff College. On the outbreak of WW2, Sandhurst became the home of 161 Infantry Office Cadet Training Unit (RMC), which moved to Mons Barracks, Aldershot in 1942; for the rest of the war Sandhurst was used at a Royal Armoured corps Office Cadet Training Unit. The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was formed in 1947 on the site of the former Royal Military College at Sandhurst from a merger between the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich (which trained officers for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from 1741 to 1939) and the Royal Military College (1802 to 1939.)
Following the ending of National Service in the UK and the closing of Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot (which had trained Short Service Commissioned Officers) in 1972, the RMAS became the sole establishment for male initial officer training in the British Army. In 1984, the Women’s Office Training College Bagshot moved to Sandhurst and in 1992 a new Commissioning Course finally unified the training of male, female and foreign cadets. More recently, for the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the Academy hosted the running part of the modern pentathlon competition. Training at Sandhurst was the subject of a three part television series, first broadcast by the BBC in 2011.
In February 2013, Sandhurst accepted a donation of £3,000,000 from the Kingdom of Bahrain. In return, the newly built gymnasium was renamed the King Hamad Hall, in honour of the King of Bahrain.