Jim Clay's memories

You may know that I finally made my way to Knighton a few days ago and took some photos of the drill hall. Whilst in Knighton, I chatted with my brother-in-law, someone who has known the social use of the hall since the late 1940s.

He told me that in the last 12 months the drill hall had undergone a thorough refurbishment, to make it a more modern, useable and comfortable venue for social events. In the process, apparently, plans were made to replace the original wood block floor - but, happily, wiser counsel prevailed. The re-opening of the hall was apparently covered by the local press, and I shall see if I can track down their report - it may well have some interesting points of history. It does look probable that the hall was in existence before the Great War, but it would be nice to find confirmation.

He reminded me of the local, amateur dance band who played at drill hall dances throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, Wilf Gough and the Scarlet Troubadours. Their drummer was the local registrar, Harold Morris.

He also recalled a regular event at New Year's Eve dances in the 1950s, when a local character, Jimmy Marsh(?) would leave the hall just before midnight carrying a scythe; as midnight arrived Miss Sarah Jane Evans (later Scotford) would come into the hall riding on a donkey.

And, of course, in 1969, the blues-rock band Chicken Shack, honouring a booking made before they became chart stars, played a gig at the drill hall I am told, for I wasn't there, that they made the loudest noise ever heard in the town. As a good rock band should.

The drill hall remains an important local amenity and venue. It houses, of course, the local Army Cadets and Air Cadets groups; it is also the home and rehearsal venue of Knighton Town Silver Band, a thriving band who play all over the district at diverse events and have, on occasion played as far afield as London and, I believe, Germany. My brother-in-law and my sister are veteran members of the band. The drill hall is also the venue for local flower and produce shows as well as hosting local farmers' markets.

I certainly hope to have further information for you. My brother-in-law, has offered to enquire of people who have even longer memories than he, and, if I can, I'll track down the article in the local paper. In the meantime, though, these notes indicate that the drill hall in Knighton has been for very many years an important amenity in the town, remains so now, and, having treated the old lady to a thorough spruce-up, the local community obviously intends that she will continue to be an important social centre.

October, 2005

© All material is copyright - refer to the Terms of Use

the first attempt at content

The Drill Hall Project - Charting a neglected legacy