6th Bexhill Battery of the 2nd C.P.A.V (1892)
6th Sussex Battery, 2nd Home Counties Brigade Royal Field Artillery
2nd Home Counties Field Company Royal Engineers
H Company 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (left half)
ds 'D' Squadron Sussex Yeomanry
We have information about three drill halls in Bexhill.
- Rifle Volunteers' drill hall built in c. 1886 in Station road. Demolished.
- Artillery Volunteers' drill hall built in 1901 on the east of the Down. Demolished.
- TA drill hall built in 1914/5 on the west of the Down. Extant.
[There are confusing references to premises here; being, variously, Belle Hill, Station road and
London road, and near or behind either the Queen's Head, Castle or York Hotels. The London road is
shown on the 1899 OS map as Station road, and in 1910 as Lower Station road.]
The Bexhill detachment of the 2nd Home Counties Field Company Royal Engineers was listed at
Station road in Kelly, 1911. 128 Station Road also provided a Drill hall for the left half of H Co. 5th
(Cinque Ports) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. (Kelly, 1911) A reference in the Bexhill-on-Sea
Observer, in 1908, refers to the Castle Hotel as 'the proposed site of the new Engineers' Drill Hall'.
[The Castle Hotel was in Station road, according to Kelly, 1899.] We have no information on this
'new' drill hall.
According to the Discover Bexhill website, on the page entitled 'The Landmarks of Bexhill-on-Sea',
and a post in the message forum, an original drill hall was built behind the York Hotel, London road,
by a local landlord, sometime after 1886. The premises were later acquired by the ELVA Engineering
Co. for the manufacture of sports cars. The building has long since been demolished. [Photographs
appear on Roger Dunbar's website, http://www.elva.com/history/aug06-jottings03.html]
East Sussex Record Office has archive documentation dated February 1887 referring to a 'Drill shed,
near Queens Head Hotel, Belle Hill / Station Road / J P Goodwin DR/A/1/1/X2.'
The Bexhill Observer, in referring to the 1901 drill hall on the Down, states that, 'The… drill hall… for
the Cinque Ports [Artillery] Volunteers… replaced the town's original drill hall which stood in Belle Hill
and was approached from the York Hotel in London Road.' Kelly's 1899 Directory places both the
York hotel and the 2nd Cinque Ports Volunteer Artillery's drill shed in Station road.
The 1910 OS map shows a drill hall to the south of what is now Burnside Mews, between Belle Hill
and Lower Station road.
In 1901, a new drill hall was built on the Down for the Artillery Volunteers. East Sussex Record Office
holds copies of plans submitted by Lt Col H E Wilson for a 'New Drill Hall and offices, Downs Road',
drawn by J B Wall and dated 15th October 1900.
Kelly, 1911, lists part of the 6th Sussex Battery, 2nd Home Counties Brigade Royal Field Artillery at
the Drill Hall, The Downs.
In 1914, Major H W Sanders submitted plans for a 'New Drill Hall and alterations to existing one -
The Down', for the Sussex Territorial Force, dated 23rd February 1914. The new drill hall was built,
in a similar crenellated style, to the west of the 1901 Artillery hall.
An article in the Bexhill Observer, Friday, September 8th, 2006, reported extensive vandalism,
including arson, to the 1901 drill hall, leaving it in a dangerous condition. The 'left hand' drill hall –
the 1915 building - was in use by Cadets and youth services, but the 'right hand' drill hall (the 1901
building) had been vacant for a long time and was boarded up. The site of the two drill halls was
intended for sale and redevelopment as housing or a superstore to finance a new school in the area.
The drill halls were not listed buildings and as security was a serious issue, the county intended to
accelerate the demolition of the 1901 drill hall.
Thank you to Janet Graves for drawing our attention to this report, and the subsequent photographic
evidence of the demolition of the 1901 building.