THE $870 million Defence project which will relocate the School of Military Engineering from its home at the Steele Barracks on Moorebank Avenue has started.
The move is part of the Moorebank units relocation project to make way for the federal intermodal.
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney, made a special appearance at the sod-turning ceremony on Monday afternoon to mark the works' beginning.
The Steele Barracks has housed the School of Military Engineering since 1939, and for more than 70 years thousands of military personnel have been trained on the site.
Providing initial employment training for army members who have just finished basic training, the school offers skills development in diverse military technologies, specialist engineering fields and trade skills such as plumbing, electrical, construction and light/heavy transport and machinery.
The museum and a memorial honouring the engineers lost during the Vietnam War will also be moved.
Local resident June Young, whose husband was an engineer who served in the Vietnam War, said the site had historical significance for many local families.
"For many families who have sent troops off from that site, it is very heart-wrenching to think that the school, the museum and the church are moving," she said.
"My husband was involved in the drafting of the first church; many of our soldiers were married in that church and some were farewelled there.
"Once it's gone, you can't bring history back."
Ms Young said some bricks and materials from the current site would be moved across and used in the construction of the new school.