Cinque Ports street
Drill Hall, Mill Lane

1st Cinque Ports Rifle (Cinque Ports and Sussex) Volunteers 'E' Company (Kelly, 1905)
Volunteers' Armoury, Cinque Ports street (Kelly, 1905)

'E Co. 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment; Cinque Ports street.' (Kelly, 1911)
ds 'D' Squadron Sussex Yeomanry

A local resident has checked the Rye Library. Unfortunately it does not have copies of the 1909/10 OS maps (held at Hastings), but local books include references to 'Drill Hall, Agricultural Hall', and Kelly, 1907, refers to an armoury for the Volunteers. From his evidence, it seems that until 1912 the Drill Hall was the Agricultural Hall with an armoury in Cinque Ports street, then a custom-built hall was opened in Windmill lane. (Thank you to our contributor for this research.)

The Colour Sergeant and Instructor, Harry Plews, lived at the Armoury in Cinque Ports street. The range was at Watlands Farm, Udimore. (Kelly, 1905)

The Old Drill Hall by Eric Wetherill
'The Old Drill Hall pictured in Eric Wetherill's line drawing was situated where the Fire Station is today, along the track and the footpath that leads from Ferry Road, along beside the Windmill, to the river.

In 1911, a Veteran Reserve was formed from the 5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, Cinque Ports Volunteers, because of the threat of invasion from Germany. The Drill Hall and Armoury in Mill Lane, Rye, was begun later in 1911, for the Reserve, and was opened by Lord Brassey on February 27th 1912.

To the left, inside the building, was a .22 rifle range running its full length, and there are Ryers [Rye people] alive today who recall the Army Cadets and actually shooting on this rifle range. There were boxing matches and even dances held there. How many Rye couples first met in the Drill Hall?

It lasted in the capacity of a Drill Hall and meeting venue for fifty years, when, in 1963, it closed its doors. It was then used by Reckitt & Coleman, the manufacturer of polishes, who used the building for the next eight years. The building remained empty from 1971 until 1988, when it was demolished and the present Fire Station was built on the site.'

This information is from the Rye Castle Museum website http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk and we thank Martin Bradshaw, the curator, for permission to use it.

Rye - The Old Drill Hall - Line drawing by Eric Wetherill
The Old Drill Hall - Line drawing by Eric Wetherill
Reproduced by permission of the Rye Castle Museum
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The Drill Hall Project - Charting a neglected legacy