Corn Exchange
Drill Hall, Market road

‘A & B Companies, 2nd Volunteer Battalion Essex Regiment; head quarters, Corn exchange.’ (Kelly, 1894)

Essex Royal Horse Artillery; head quarters [Battery and Ammunition Column]
2 Section Battery & B Subsection Ammunition Column
Essex (Fortress) Royal Engineers, Electric Lights Company
5th Battalion Essex Regiment; head quarters [and A and B Companies]
Army Service Corps, Eastern Mounted Brigade Transport & Supply Column
C Troop B Squadron Essex Yeomanry

(References Kelly, 1914)

According to Kelly, 1914, the 5th Battalion Essex Regiment Headquarters [plus A and B Companies] was at the Drill Hall, Market road. Also using Market road Drill Hall as Headquarters were the Essex Royal Horse Artillery [2 Section Battery & B Subsection Ammunition Column], the Essex (Fortress) Royal Engineers Electric Lights Company and the Army Service Corps Eastern Mounted Brigade Transport and Supply Column.

Kelly, 1914, describes the premises:

‘The head quarters of the Territorial Force Association, in Market road, is a building of brick with stone dressings, erected at a cost of £3,825; the foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Warwick, President of the Association, in July, 1910, and the buildings formally opened by Viscount Haldane P.C. 21st October, 1911; on the first floor are secretary’s office, clerk’s room and caretaker’s quarters; on the ground floor are the orderly rooms and stores for the Essex Royal Horse Artillery, Essex (Fortress) Royal Engineers, and the Eastern Mounted Brigade Transport and Supply Column, Army Service Corps; at the rear of the building, is a square 50 yards by 70 yards.

‘The Drill hall, in Market road, was erected at a cost of £3,450, the foundation stone was laid by Field-Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood V.C. hon. Colonel of the Regiment, on 22 November, 1902, and the hall formally opened by Field-Marshal Earl Roberts V.C. 4 July, 1903. The building is of brick with stone dressings and slated and glazed roof, and contains orderly room, stores and armoury for the 5th Battalion Essex Regiment and A and B Companies of the regiment, a lofty and well-lighted drill hall, 100 by 60 feet, officers’ and sergeants’ quarters, and a recreation room for the men, with quarters for the instructor.’

A report in The Times, Wednesday 6th May, 1903, stated that, ‘the Commander-in-chief has promised to visit … on July 1st to open the new Volunteer Drill hall.’ This is later amended to the 4th, ‘as arranged, …. for the local companies of the 2nd Vol. Batt. Essex Regt., at a cost of £3,000.’

This information suggests that the drill hall, opened eight years before the headquarters building, was for the exclusive use of the Essex Regiment. It appears self-contained with a large hall and the sundry offices and accommodations found in many drill halls.

The Territorial Force Association head quarters offers similar accommodation, less a drill hall, although there was a substantial yard for drill. Two of the units based here were mounted; accommodation for horses and wagons, etc., were often elsewhere, perhaps at the estate of the commanding officer. The engineer unit was No 1 Electric Light Company, part of Harwich Coastal Defences, and this was clearly a purely administrative location.

According to recollections on the BBC ‘People’s war’ website, the Territorial Drill Hall was bombed on 13 May 1943 and set on fire.
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The Drill Hall Project - Charting a neglected legacy