WW1 Great War Centenary - Drill Halls

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright March 2014, John M; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
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Drill halls were built from 1860 for the local Rifle Volunteer Corps funded by public subscription or local benefactors. This became more formalised with the 1863 Volunteer Act. The units required a secure armoury and place to train. Initially this may have been found in the town hall, corn exchange, school, chapel or large house and a number of facilities were purpose built.

The Cardwell Act of the 1880s aligned the units as Volunteer Battalions of County Regiments whilst the Haldane Act of 1908 disbanded the Volunteers and set up the Territorial Force with funding through County Territorial Associations. A further surge in hall building occurred in the immediate pre-war period with some of the previously used hired halls falling out of use.

SO9198 : Drill Hall - Stafford Street by John M TF4065 : Franklin Hall Halton Road by Jo and Steve Turner SK0012 : Bingo Hall and Cadet Hut, Hednesford by Mick Malpass

The Drill Hall provided indoor training facilities typically 80ft by 40ft, offices, an armoury, indoor rifle range and accommodation for an instructor or caretaker.

Drill Halls as community buildings were often constructed near town centres and continue to be lost to redevelopment. Cuts in local government funding and unsuitability to meet needs for modern facilities has put pressure to demolish or sell the halls. Some buildings are listed but many are of little architectural merit. There are good examples of re-use of buildings but for many the only acknowledgement is a street name in a housing development.

The 1914-1918 Great War centenary marks an opportunity to record the remaining examples.

For further information and county list see http://www.drillhalls.org/index.htmExternal link

Always Ready - The Drill Halls of Britain's Volunteer Force by Mike Osborne (Partizan Press, 2006)


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