Drill Hall, Broad street

1st Sussex Royal Engineer Volunteers; C Co. 4 Cinque Ports Terrace (Kelly, 1899)
1st Sussex Royal Engineer Volunteers; B Co. Riverside. (Kelly, 1905)
Kelly, 1905, entry curiously places the 'Sussex (1st) Volunteer Royal Engineers, next to Drill hall.'
'Sussex Fortress Royal Engineers Works Co. Territorial Force (right half), Drill hall, Queens Hall, Broad street.' (Kelly, 1911)

There is reference in East Sussex Record Office to plans for - Heating apparatus - ref. TR MES AD1/105 - date: 1896 Drill Hall, Seaford, Sussex. Client: B.A. Miller [civil engineer]

It is suggested in a newspaper report that 'the Queen's Hall was built for Queen Victoria's Jubilee [in 1896/7] - her 60th. It was built by public subscription as a meeting place for the people of Seaford and a drill hall.' it was used by the local choral society and the History of Seaford Choral Society website refers to a 'concert in 1929, held in the Queen's Hall (now known as the Drill Hall in 'upper' Broad St.)'.

The building was allowed to deteriorate externally and internally into a state where it was considered unsafe, with rotting floors. Photographs submitted as part of a planning application in December 2006 showed its depressingly neglected state. Complete demolition was proposed, but the plans were withdrawn. Some of the reasons for demolition seem contrived; the document argued that the hard edge of the drill hall interrupted a view down the street scene, which seems to overlook its heritage value.

However, by contrast, the Lewes Buildings at Risk register, 2005, had stated: 'Timber and sash case windows intact. Boarded up ground floor windows with brickwork in a poor state and requiring re- pointing and repairs. Appears structurally sound.' The Drill Hall was included within the Conservation Area in the appraisal of 2005.

Plans submitted in 2007 proposed retaining the facade and building houses behind. The MoD's delay in making a decision to sell prompted political interventions over several years, including a Petition presented by Norman Baker, MP, to the House of Commons, because the building was empty and dilapidated, urging the Ministry of Defence 'to clarify its position with regard to the future of the Seaford Drill Hall and to consider selling the building for local community use.'

It was put up for disposal in 2008, but plans were approved in August, 2007, for: 'Retention and residential conversion to front of Drill Hall to provide four apartments and three storey extension to rear to provide three apartments. Construction of new two storey Cadet building to rear of site.' We understand the premises are due to be redeveloped (2009).
Photograph not available
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The Drill Hall Project - Charting a neglected legacy