‘Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary’s Regiment) (D Squadron); Coombe Villa, 105 Merton road SW.’ (Kelly, 1913).
‘5th Battalion East Surrey Regiment (E, F & G Cos.); head quarters, Drill hall, 17 St George’s road.’ (Kelly, 1913)
Wimbledon Choral Society's [WCS] website includes a review from the Wimbledon Courier, April 1880, describing a concert which had taken place in 'our new drill hall' on April 5th.
This drill hall, which was on St George's road, has been demolished. We are grateful to the WCS for confirmation.
The Drill Hall first appears in the 1882 Trade Directory as "Surrey Rifle Volunteers (3rd Wimbledon detachment) E & F Companies, Officer HQ. Drill Hall, St George's Rd." Its address is recorded in the 1887 Trade Directory as 5, St George's road, but eventual renumbering as the road was developed means that its address later changes to between 13 / 15 and 27 St George's road. It is shown on the 1898 OS map.
The Drill Hall was well used by the community. In addition to the Choral Society's performances, it was used for civic occasions, such as a dinner held in 1890 for the Wimbledon Local Board to celebrate the extension of Worple road. The pantomime, 'Humpty Dumpty', was performed in the Drill Hall in 1897 by an amateur company. The celebrations in 1905 to mark Wimbledon's promotion to Borough status included a high tea for 500 people in the Drill Hall. It is also believed that local suffragettes staged meetings and lectures there between 1910 and 1913.
According to evidence on historical maps, the Drill Hall appears to have survived into the 1960s. A building referred to as the TA Centre is shown in 1968 and has the same footprint as the original Drill Hall shown in the 1930s, so is probably the same building.
Kelly's Directory, 1972, is the last listing traceable for the Drill Hall. A large underground car park seems to have been constructed on the site in around 1972/3, so it is possible that the Drill Hall was demolished at that point.
We are extremely grateful to Sarah Gould, Heritage Officer, Merton Local Studies Centre, Morden Library, for tracing the detailed history of the Drill Hall.
Thank you to John Gallagher for his help
in supplying information and sources.