Places - Bamber Bridge - The Artillery Drill Hall
Pear Tree Street, Bamber Bridge, PR5 6EZ
OS Grid Reference: SD 56325 26739
The Drill Hall was initially constructed for the 5th Lancashire Artillery Volunteers in Pear Tree Meadow, Bamber Bridge. The 'Notice of intention to build' was submitted to the Local Board for the District of Walton-le-Dale on the 24th September 1887 by Joseph Croft, acting for the officers of the 5th Lancashire Artillery Volunteers.
The document shows that the walls were to be made of brick, the floors timber, roof slate and with an ashphalt dampcourse. The water supply was to come from the Water Mains of the Walton-le-Dale Local Board. The plans, which are situate at the Lancashire Archives (see sources below), were drawn up by the firm of Myres, Veevers & Myres. Thomas Myres of the firm was born in Preston in 1842 and was a noted railway building civil engineer and architect of the day. Unfortunately, the plans are very fragile and are subject to copyright, so I cannot reproduce them here. However, I have used the approximate dimensions given on the plans to reconstruct the building as it may have looked about the time of the construction.
The main entrance was via Pear Tree Street running west from Station Road intersecting two rows of terracing. Although the building is dead ahead and there is an entrance on the east side, the main entrance is through a side gate on the left into a paddock or drill field. Through the gate, you would turn right and follow the walls around to the west of the building and the main entrance was through two large double doors at the north-west end. Immediately opposite the main entrance in the north-west corner of the field was a small block that contained a row of urinals, a privy with ash pit and a coal bunker.
The south end of the building contained offices, one each on the west and east sides. The space in between was designated as storage space. Three windows were on the south end and two on the east side. The west side of the building had five smaller windows set higher in the wall. The roof was primarily constructed of slate with glass at the apex to admit more light. There was a flag pole at the south end of the building.
The building cost £600 0s. 0d. to build, partially made of of a loan of £270 0s. 0d. The 5th Lancashire Artillery Volunteers changed in 1908 to 2nd West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, Territorial Force, commanded by Major R. R. Heap. Their headquarters was at the Drill Hall in Stanley Street, Preston and the Bamber Bridge Drill Hall was used for training purposes. At the outbreak of war, they had changed to Territorial Force, Divisional Artillery, 2nd West Lancashire Brigade, RFA Preston. (Second Line). A further reorganisation came in 1915 when they became 57th West Lancashire Division, 286 Brigade, C Battery, (Bamber Bridge). The men wore the symbol "D" on their sleeve patches to denote Lord Derby.
The following chart shows how many local men were recruited for the Royal Field Artillery and those recruited at the Drill Hall
Modern Day. The building still exists, but is not in its original condition. It has been partitioned into two businesses and a wall has been constructed on the outside to further partition the two. The south end is occupied by Modern Motors. The proprietor, Graham, let me have a look around inside his part of the building. The glass at the apex of the roof has gone, as have the offices, which are now used as storage space, while the main part to the north of this area is used by Graham to inspect and work on cars.
The north end is occupied by Progress Care (Holdings) Ltd as their offices. The flag pole fixture is still on the exterior of the south end. The area where the paddock / drill field used to be is now occupied by housing and a car park - the area has been significantly built up since the construction of the hall. Before the housing, there were egg-packing sheds there.
Please email the project with any amendments or corrections
Edited 3 May 2017
Lancashire Archives catalogue number UDWD 54/4/221 and original material
The original plans in the Lancashire Archives are extremely fragile and cannot be reproduced here. I have made some diagrams using the approximate dimensions from those plans. These are intended to illustrate how the Drill Hall could have looked when first built but are not intended to be exact. Click on each image to enlarge.
How the Drill Hall looks today
All Images © Charles O'Donnell 2017