I have wondered for time Apollo, why Scottish military drill halls have never been featured on SeSco. (I searched and didn't find anything... honest!). Perhaps it's because there were so many of them throughout Scotland yet, in WWII they were very much a part of the military scene in Scotland and the U.K., and their number has dwindled greatly since WWII.
I had been in three of these drill halls: the one on Fairfield St. Govan (since demolished); 65 MainSt. Bridgeton; and the Quay head, Campbeltown.
In all seriousness, I don't know if Drill Halls existed as separate entities, or if precisely what you have in mind was specifically built for purpose. It may be that in wartime, many village halls and church halls were pressed into this services for both military and Civil Defence , eg ARP operations, and therefore never existed on their own.
I have some cadet huts nearby, used by the Air Cadets and the Beardmore (yes, of the nearby foundry) regiment, but none of them appear in any online listings calling for members to join the cadets or that list their locations!
Now, I admit I've only had a first pass look out of interest, but as these places exist, and the cadets can be seen drilling there, I'd have thought that it would take but a moment to find them on the web.
I'm guessing the Captain's past sdmission to a connection might help, and he should probably know where I'm referring to if I mention Killin Street.
Hmmmph, I searched for "drill hall"; and why wouldn't I search for "drill hall" if I were looking for "drill hall"! Anyway Apollo, you're probably correct, I don't think the establishments known as "drill halls" would really belong in the same category as the military establishments shown in your Military bases and Establishment list. Were they built specifically for military training? I don't know for sure, but I'd guess they were originally. For example, the one in Campbeltown has a military crest built into the original pre-WWI stonework at the entrance.
The building of a conscripted territorial army was very much a part of Britain's rearming just prior to the outbreak of WWII. Chamberlain introduced conscription for the Territorials early in 1939 and this force became an important source of personnel for the B.E.F. These "drill halls" about which I speak, many of them dating back to pre- Great War, were therefore, very much a part of Britain's military rejuvenation when a European war loomed in the not-too-distant horizon in 1939. I would guess that none of these buildings was built specifically for Chamberlain's 1939 Territorial Army, but I can tell you with absolute certainty, that part of Chamberlain's Teritorial Army drilled and learned how to fire a rifle in them.
There was also a similar establishment in Govan which, although not known as a "terri drill hall", was what we would call a military establishment today. I'm speaking of the R.N.V.R. Building on Whitefied Road in Govan (maybe Ibrox). My brother joined the RNVR (not as a conscript) here just before the war, and went for a cruise on HMS Royal Oak as a member of this Whitefield Rd. contingent of would-be sailors in the hectic rearming summer of 1939.
I have an excellent book, published a couple of years ago, which not only lists virtually every Drill Hall which ever existed in Britain, but includes plans, histories, architectural details and photographs. If you want, I'll try and find the time to compile a list of all the Scottish ones as soon as I get left in peace long enough.
A couple of definite gems there, and I'll be happy to do the wikifying on any data added.
Again, I continue to learn as I admit it didn't occur to me to think of Drill Halls in the context of World War I - for some reason I never seem to think of preparations for that conflict in the same way as I seem to do automatically for the second. I seem to be locked into thinking it just "started" one day. I've never really been drawn to it as a subject, and the most interesting thing that ever comes to mind is the story that my grandfather lied about his age in order to join up. I think he was barely more than a teenager when he talked his way into the Army back then.
Thank you very much Historian, for your very generous offer to compile a list of drill halls. I can imagine such a list would require a lot of work, and it would not be worth the effort on my behalf. My interest in such buildings was simply as a contribution to ScSco's compilation of historical WWII buildings etc., which played a military role in the war. I am delighted nevertheless, to hear that such a book has already been published... it vindicates my feeling that these buildings were of military significance and did play a role in the war. I hasten to point out however, perhaps needlessly, that such a list would bolster the comprehensiveness of SeSco's history in no small measure. Thank you again.
"Thinking of Campbeltown, did you spot the Civil Defence Training Centre Campbeltown ?"
No Apollo, i must confess I didn't spot the Civil Defence Training Centre. i must confess further, that i didn't even know where Bolgam St was in Campbeltown! Anyway, i had a good toot around the pictures and the maps and enjoyed it. I thought perhaps I'd have found the old " Dreel Ha' ", but no luck. I have a picture of Campbeltown above my fireplace and the Ha' is readily identified. Last time I was in C/town it was being used as a dance hall.
My pleasure, gents. Already started on it, but am struggling though the 'A's ! There's about 30 pages covering Scotland. Dugald, the tome concerned is Always Ready; the drill halls of Britain's volunteer forces by Mike Osborne (Leigh on Sea. Partizan Press. 2006). The author has already done a few similar books, and I think I'm right in saying that this one blossomed from a similar project which started on the Great War Forum.
Since the rain - and the wind - decided to have a break today I thought I'd get some pics from of the halls round the corner, but my timing wasn't to clever and just after I caught the details below the adjacent school spilled a horde of demons on to the street, and I had to abandon any hopes of surviving without being mugged - or at least the news teams from STV and documentary makers that dare to visit the area would have the world believe.
Anyway, I didn't leave empty handed...
(Notice the alarm box under the eaves is protected by a metal cage)
The preceding pics turn out to be more valuable that they thought to be!
Deciding to trundle through the back streets last night - and neither the BBC nor ITV have yet called to interview me for one of the "Deadly east end" films - I turned the corner to see... nothing.
Well, nothing apart from the complete absence of the drill halls pictured above, the site having been completely cleared of any evidence of the them or their existence, and now surrounded by the usual security fencing, and occupied by containers.
Too early to tell what is happening, or even if the containers contain replacement buildings in prefabricated form. They appear to be dark green (it was dark - despite the pics) and carried no marking that were immediately obvious from the distance they could be see, so the might just be Army, or they could just be ordinary containers as used by many contractors who work around the area, and want to keep their stuff safe overnight. It's standard practice around here, and there are many to be seen as the housing associations are upgrading their properties at the moment - usually sticking insulation on them.
There were two - the Victoria Hall, close to Old Quay Head, which was damaged in the first air raid on the town. Afterwards it did have a military role - it accommodated the crews of the rescue tugs based in Campbeltown. These were tugs which tried to recover ships which had been torpedoed or bombed in the Atlantic and which could possibly be repaired.
The second - the Drill Hall - was at the north-east corner of the St John Street/Argyll Street junction. During the war its function was to accommodate classes displaced from the Grammar School, which had become HMS Nimrod. The office space at the eastern end became the office of the Rector of the Grammar School and had its own door in St John Street.
Interesting stuff about drill halls in Campbeltown Passerby. I knew of course about the Victoria Hall, close to Old Quay Head, and I do recall the rescue tugs based at Campbeltown; well, I recall one of the anyway, the Bustler...if my memory serves me.
The one at the corner of St John Street/Argyll Street is something new. Well, I do know the corner, but I never considered the building there a "drill hall"; but who knows, maybe they had OTC cadet-training there. There were quite a lot of buildings in Campbeltown used by HMS Nimrod. The new houses in Dalintober for example, which were under construction in 1939 were completed and used by the navy and stayed in naval use till the end of the war.
The Drill Hall in Argyll Street was used by Territorial Army volunteers both before and after the Second World War, while the Victoria Hall was used for community events - concerts, dances, and the like. As far as I am aware, the Victoria Hall had no military use after the departure of the rewscue tug crews.
Certainly post-War the TA unit was a LAA (Light Anti-Aircraft Unit) equipped with one (?) 40 mm Bofors gun. This was kept in a hangar at the disused Strath airfield (HMS LANDRAIL II), along with other equipment. Besides its resumed use as a drill hall, it was also used for community events, although it was considerably smaller than the Victoria Hall.
At weekends an agile Dragon Rapide provided training for the gunners at the Strath.
Although the replacement for the cadet drill halls in Shettleston are still to be completed, the absence of leaves on the trees that normally obscure the view, and somewhat better light than the abysmally drab and grey conditions under which the former building site was photographed, meant that a photo opportunity was not to be wasted:
On Drill halls, was the Loreburn Hall in Dumfries, such an entity, also I was led to believe that where the County Buildings stand was a KOSB Barracks, the Loreburn hall is adjacent, anyone have info on this.
I don't know if anyone here knows Irvine well enough. There are two buildings in very close proximity. One is called the Volunteer Rooms, its basically a large open hall administered now by North Ayrshire council, there are a number of smaller rooms off it. The other building is the Sea Cadets Hall which is, as far as I know, one open hall and little else. Now one or both of these buildings has sometimes been referred to as the 'Drill Hall'. Was this true or is it just a fanciful local name. I know there are Cadet halls shared between the Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps on East Road next to the Army Recruitment Centre but I've never heard any name like that used there. It looks like an older building that the ATC and ACF use but I've no idea of any prior use, (if any). Perhaps I could try and get some pictures of both facilities.
Mar 25 2009 by Craig Robertson, Dumfries Standard Wednesday
THE DOORS of a historic Dumfries building will stay shut after a last gap bid to re-open it was kicked out.
Councillors have decided against restoring the Loreburn Hall to public use despite interest from several community groups.
That’s prompted an angry response by Dumfries Labour Councillor Colin Smyth who proposed the move at a meeting on Thursday.
And he believes that, because his motion was discussed at the resources committee – which contains only two of the town’s councillors – and not the Nithsdale committee, it scuppered any hope of his plan being backed.
He said: “It was already all but impossible for a community group to take over the Loreburn Hall without at least some support from the council.
“This hall is going to sit empty for at least 10 years crumbling away and for the council to bury its head in the sand and say that after July we will lock the door for good simply sums up why so many local people agree with Audit Scotland labelling this council a failure.”
The Newall Terrace property has been deemed surplus to requirements after the DG One leisure complex opened last year.
A move was made by the YMCA and regeneration group, the People’s Project, to take it on.
And several community groups have contacted the Standard to say the would prefer to use the Loreburn Hall rather than DG One because of it’s size.
You know whats sad? That halls like this are often in demand if reasonably priced for use.
I'll give an example, I go to a model club in Irvine, and our old hall fell into disrepair, it was basically a prefabricated hut that was part of an old school. Fortunately the same old school had a larger building that had been the gym and a number of other rooms. However, we've learned that in a year this may close. It is partially backed by the council, part by the community when it comes to running and repairs. There are three halls in the area and one is earmarked for closeure. One certainly won't get closed as it is very modern, no good for the club though. So its between ours and one in Ravenspark.
When the previous hall went the club looked round and any which the council purely ran wanted silly prices. To get it into perspective our club meets for three hours a week, attendance can be anything from 10-16 members, we're not a large club and we're not part of IPMS. Any other hall wanted £18 per hour, which is beyond our means. We got far cheaper with this place with an affiliation fee paid once off per year. Now you're not telling me our club is the only one in such a situation. The councils say people should 'get off the streets' but if the halls are priced out the market what do you do.
So a lot of these halls could function for community use but it seems a shame they get ignored.
Probably not the case with small halls like that but often places like schools were built as PFI projects and the contract only covers specific uses and times. Any use out of those hours will be very expensive as the company running the contract tries to screw some more profit from the contract. The specialist companies are very experienced in finding extras to charge for to increase profits, the best example the hospital where they charged for marmalade on the toast with the patients' breakfast because they found it was not included in the contract.
There are some interesting views of the Shettleston halls to be caught on Google at the moment.
The normal aerial view has caught the single new building during construction, while the Street View option has managed to catch some nice views of the old buildings, from the height of car camera, which you couldn't manage unless you had been upstairs in a bus, and it had also happened to be going past as well. And it also shows the views I missed before the old one were lost
I think I'm right in saying that this one blossomed from a similar project which started on the Great War Forum.
The book has no connection with the Drill Halls Project (online as a work in progress at http://www.drillhalls.org). This project started before the inception of the Great War Forum and well before the book you mention. The thread on the GWF is an information-gathering one to supplement the information derived from detailed work on historical records. We do have a thorough database of Scottish drill halls and as soon as we have finished uploading the counties of England and Wales, we will begin to put Scotland online. Apologies, but we had to start somewhere! Our focus is the period before and up to the Great War. We are always grateful for new material.
We have been gathering photos of extant Scottish drill halls ready for this for quite some time. Scotland has some fabulous drill halls of solid construction and respected architectural pedigree. A new gallery of Scottish pictures is planned but in the meantime there are some old postcard images in the Nostalgia section on the site.
I will be visiting west Scotland shortly and was planning to call in on Lockerbie to photograph its drill hall. Someone told me where it is. But I've just found information which suggests that it has now been demolished. Is anyone able to confirm this, please?
I see that Main Street, Lockerbie, has been captured in Google Street View, so if you know where the hall was located, you can quickly and easily check the location using that service, or examine the street if the exact location of the hall is not known.
You can also view a number of photographs of the same street in geograph:
Thank you very much. I have looked on old OS maps and yes, I know where the drill hall is/was and I can't see it on Google Street View, but sometimes local knowledge can add something which isn't captured by Google. (Eg building positioned behind another.)
I looked on the Secret Scotland summary (which led me to the forum), but unfortunately there are some inaccuracies. I've visited some of the drill halls which are said to be demolished and taken their photos within the last two years (that is, since the publication of the source book). I don't have that book and I haven't seen a copy at all, so I can't check it thoroughly.
I appreciate your time in replying and including the links.