Chatham

New road
31 High street, Old Brompton
Fort Pitt Hill / Boundary road
Albany terrace

'Royal East Kent (Duke of Connaught's Own (Mounted Rifles), (A Squadron); Drill hall, New road.'
'Kent Royal Garrison Artillery; head quarters [and No. 1 Company], 31 High street, Old Brompton, Chatham.'
'Home Counties (Kent) Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery: Right half Battery and Ammunition Column.'
'5th Battalion The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), F&G Cos.; head quarters, Albany terrace.'
'Kent Cyclist Battalion ([section] C Company), Drill hall, Boundary road.' Listed elsewhere as a section of D Company
'1st Home Counties Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps (C Section)

All the above references are taken from Kelly, 1913.
Kelly, 1903, lists '4th Volunteer Battalion Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment); head quarters, 6a, High street.'

The new Drill Hall on Boundary Road, Fort Pitt was described in detail in the Chatham Observer here. The building included an entrance hall, wide plus separate entrances for sergeants, men and caretaker, Adjutant's room, orderly-room, Colonel's room, Officers' dressing room, offices and armoury. The Sergeants' room was fitted with a private bar and a lavatory annexe. On the opposite side was the men's recreation and reading room, with its own bar and a lavatory annexe.

The drill hall itself was a spacious and airy hall with an open timber roof and measured 70 feet by 120 feet.

Upstairs, the facilities included a billiard room, mess room, caretaker's quarters, kitchen, pantry, and wine store and the drill hall gallery.

In the basement was a band room, Quartermaster's store, coal cellar, ammunition store, machine gun and ambulance room, a beer, wine and spirit cellar with a lift to the bar in the men's room.

The structure of the building is described in the newspaper piece. It was built in the Hennebique system of ferro-concrete construction, which arrived in Britain in 1897 and thus may have been one of the earliest examples.

The new Drill Hall was financed entirely by the local community and cost 8358. Its foundation stone was laid by Lord Roberts on 27th July, 1903 and the building was opened by Lord Methuen in May 1906. Methuen's speech draws attention to resentment at the "immense sums of money [locally] being spent on the Navy and immense sums being spent on the Army for the better housing, better feeding, better clothing, and for the better pay of the Navy and Army." By contrast, "the Volunteers did not get any pay, and this was their little effort to house themselves so that they might make their men more comfortable in their little pleasures, and utilise the fine hall in which they were assembled for the purposes of drill and for making themselves more efficient."

Read the report of the laying of the foundation stone here.
Read the report of the opening here.
Read about the Volunteers Ball in their new Drill Hall, here.
Read about a Sergeants' Dinner held in the new drill hall, here.

The Drill Hall was demolished in February,1933, just thirty years after it was founded with such immense pride.

We are extremely grateful for the considerable help given by the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, Strood. We are also very appreciative of the interest taken by Brian Joyce, local author, during my visit to the Local Studies Centre.

Postcard of Chatham Volunteer Drill Hall enlarge


Archive image of Chatham Volunteer Drill Hall. enlarge


Postcard of Chatham Volunteer Drill Hall enlarge


Chatham Drill Hall on 1909 Ordnance Survey View more extensive map


Newspaper report of Chatham Volunteer Ball View full article



Read the report of the opening Drill Hall, here



Read about a Dinner held in the new drill hall, here.


Read the report of the laying of the foundation stone here.
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The Drill Hall Project - Charting a neglected legacy