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Keighley Drill Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in Keighley, Bradford

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Latitude: 53.8687 / 53°52'7"N

Longitude: -1.907 / 1°54'25"W

OS Eastings: 406212

OS Northings: 441395

OS Grid: SE062413

Mapcode National: GBR HR3P.YX

Mapcode Global: WHB7W.P03Z

Plus Code: 9C5WV39V+F5

Entry Name: Keighley Drill Hall

Listing Date: 14 October 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1437187

ID on this website: 101437187

Location: Keighley, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD21

County: Bradford

Civil Parish: Keighley

Built-Up Area: Keighley

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Keighley

Church of England Diocese: Leeds

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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Drill Hall opened 1867, designed by Messers John Judson and More, Keighley for the 35th West Yorkshire Volunteer Corps, extended 1876 and 1897.


Drill Hall opened 1867, designed by Messers John Judson and More, Keighley for the 35th West Yorkshire Volunteer Corps, extended 1876 and 1897.

MATERIALS: squared, coursed limestone, more roughly built to the secondary elevations; yellow sandstone dressing; Welsh slate roof with red ridge tiles. Cast iron rainwater goods.

PLAN: the administration block fronts onto Drill Street with the drill hall extending to the rear at right angles. The 1897 extension is attached to the E elevation of the hall, facing onto Lawkholme Road. The basement of the drill hall houses an indoor firing range.

Administration Block:
Two-storey, five-bay elevation to Drill Road (S) with a plain ashlar band marking the 1876 addition of the upper floor. Windows have plain ashlar surrounds with segmental heads and retain 2-over-2 sash windows. The ground floor windows are short, with high cills, one being blocked and one converted into a doorway with overlight. There are three first-floor windows which are more normally proportioned, along with a small inserted window with plain jambs. Guttering is supported on plain corbels. The roof has stone-built ridge stacks to either end and one central to the rear roof slope, the E stack having been lowered but provided with a chimney pot. The W gable is abutted by later terraced housing. The E gable is crow-stepped and blind, but embellished with a key-stoned oculus framing a shield. The rear abuts the gable end of the drill hall.

Drill Hall:
This has blind sides with gutters supported on a projecting eaves band with paired, moulded corbels. Gables, which are raised and coped, are abutted by other buildings. The roof has been recovered with cement tiles and includes continuous strip glazing about half way up each roof slope.

1897 Extension:
This includes the gymnasium which abuts and is parallel with the drill hall, having a crow-stepped S gable with a central, segmentally arched vehicle entrance with a plain ashlar surround and a later roller shutter door. Its roof is similar to that of the drill hall. Abutting to the E is a two-storey, three-bay range with end stacks and a mono-pitched, Welsh-slated roof fronting onto Lawkholme Road. This range includes a large number of small ventilation grills. Ground floor windows are similar to those of the first floor of the administration block, except they have plate glass sash windows, the N window converted into a door. Upper windows have 2-over-2 sashes with horizontal heads. This range is continued S at ground floor level by two bays with a window then doorway, this having a flat roof featuring a low, semi-battlemented parapet. A small, flat roof extension has been added above at the N end, attached to the first floor of the three-bay section.

Drill hall:
This is of nine bays, and is rectangular in plan measuring 27x18m. It has a clasped purlin roof supported by cast-iron principal rafters supported by radial struts and braces, tensioned by tie-bars. The hall is open to the roof structure and the floor of the hall is timber and is sprung. The N end has a semi-circular ventilation panel close to the ridge, with a Royal Crest flanked by rolls of honour of the men of D, E and F Companies who served in the Boer War. The W side-wall is blind and has a late C20 Portacabin office* built against it. The E side-wall is blind and has two doorways with moulded architraves leading into the 1897 extension and a further C20 inserted office*. The S end has a semi-circular ventilation panel close to the ridge, two staircases with decorative cast-iron balustrades and timber porches beneath that rise from the floor of the hall to a pair of cantilevered galleries, flanking a recessed round-arched panel, decorated with the crest of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, The Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment. These galleries provide access through open, round-arched doorways to the first-floor office rooms of the administration block. Doors in the base of the wall give access to the soldiers’ mess, the armoury, the Army cadet’s office and the entrance passageway. Two parallel, rectangular-plan former basement store rooms accessed by a winder stair, run beneath the length of the hall; the W room forms an indoor miniature firing range and has an emergency hatch at its S end.

Administration block:
All rooms have plain plastered walls, secondary suspended ceilings* and replacement plain plywood doors*. Chimney breasts remain, although fireplaces have been lost.

1897 extension:
The gymnasium is of 5 bays, and rectangular in plan measuring 15 x 11m, with a clasped purlin roof supported by timber principal rafters supported by radial struts and braces, tensioned by tie-bars, carried on internal wall piers. The floor is concrete. The N end is blind and the N bay is occupied by a single-storey concrete block-work office* and store*. Each panel in the E wall has a wire mesh ventilation panel and there are three doorways leading into the side range; the ground-floor room being the former billiards room and the first office formerly the band room.

The angle between the principal buildings and the road junction forms a yard that is partially enclosed by a wall, the E section, which retains a gatepost, being topped by spiked iron railings. This yard includes a small coal house with a catslide roof adjacent to the administration block and two extensions* to the S of the gymnasium, one with a gabled roof, and a smaller one with a flat roof.

*Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the flat roofed extension built against the S wall of the gymnasium, the Portacabin classroom within the drill hall, the block-work office within the gymnasium, the central heating boiler, and the central heating oil tank enclosure built against the E wall of the drill hall, are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Drill halls originated as a building type following the formation of the Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1859. Also known as ‘drill sheds’, and commonly identified on modern Ordnance Survey maps as ‘TA Centres’, they can be defined as dedicated training facilities for the army’s volunteer units. The history of drill halls dates back to the mid-C19 when the authorities made a concerted effort to create a reserve of men with military training, arranged along the lines of the regular army. When voluntary service, as opposed to enlisting into a paid semi-professional militia, was opened up to the general population in 1859, it proved very popular. By the end of 1860 more than 120,000 had signed up. This vast new force needed accommodation, and existing local barracks and depots were unable to take the strain. Most units were, at first, private organisations with no access to central funds. Although many of the early volunteer groups adapted existing buildings such as village halls, a purpose-built drill hall was considered the most desirable option.

Drill halls for the volunteer forces slowly began to emerge as a distinct building type and, although no two drill halls are identical, they do all share three essential elements. These combined to form a characteristic layout whereby the offices, armoury and stores were accommodated in an administrative block fronting the street, with a large hall positioned at right-angles behind (often with an indoor target range to one side and viewing balconies at either end). The third element, accommodation for the caretaker or drill instructor, could be included within the administrative block or placed separately to the rear of the hall. Whilst there are countless variations upon the basic layout, the most common is the side-by-side arrangement, with the hall running along the street beside the administrative block. The need for large unencumbered internal spaces stimulated the early use of steel roofs and experiments with laminated timber trusses (in the C19) and lamella trusses (in the 1930s), a German system of latticed steel or more usually timber roofing. In addition to their standard functions, drill halls acted as focal points for events within the wider community. Many were designed with this in mind and boasted of their suitability to host concerts, dances and meals. The units were a source of local civic pride and the architecture of their drill halls often reflected that.

Whilst many drill halls are simple, undistinguished, utilitarian structures with little or no embellishment, their architectural treatment can be divided broadly into four periods: 1859-1880, 1880-1914, 1914-1945 and 1945 to the present. The very earliest drill halls, those of 1859-1880, were often private concerns. A lack of central regulation tended to result in small buildings which were somewhat eclectic in design and style. Many of these were substantially altered or demolished as they became increasingly unfit for purpose. As such, relatively few survive.

The 35th West Yorkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed around 1860, under the Command of Lt Colonel Morrison, MP (2nd West Yorkshire Administrative Regiment). Fundraising, via public subscription, for Keighley’s drill hall started in March 1865, the land being obtained from the Duke of Devonshire at half-price. The hall was opened in July 1867 when still incomplete because of deficiencies in funding: the upper floor of the administration block was not added until 1876, probably with funding made available by the 1871 Regulation of the Forces Act. To assist with funding, the drill hall was used from the outset as a public venue, with two basement storage rooms below the drill shed used for the storage of movable bench seating for 800-900 people, and the two galleries often used as staging. A diverse range of events were staged throughout the late C19 and early C20, including concerts performed by the founder of the Halley Orchestra (Charles Halley), circuses, dramas, professional boxing matches and similar events, the last such being beer festivals during the 1980s. The drill hall was further extended in 1897 by the provision of a gymnasium, billiard room and a band room, consequent to the 1881 Volunteer Regulations, which aimed to raise the standards for volunteers units. By the time of the Boer War the drill hall was in use by D, E and F Companies, 3rd Volunteer Battalion, Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment. Latterly the drill hall was used by C Company, 4th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Territorial Army) up until 2014, since that time it has been occupied by 2431 (Keighley) Squadron Air Training Corps and the Keighley Detachment, Army Cadet Force.

Reasons for Listing

Keighley Drill Hall, built 1867-1897, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Date: built within four years of the 1863 Volunteer Act (which gave volunteer units the right to acquire their own premises) the complex is a rare, very early drill hall, possibly one of the first to benefit from some central funding following the 1871 Regulation of the Forces Act;

* Historic interest and development: the building illustrates the closely intertwined military and social history of volunteer units, and the way that drill halls were used as public venues to raise money. The complex also shows how the facilities of drill halls were expanded and developed through the late C19;

* Completeness: for the retention of all parts of the C19 drill hall complex, retaining its distinct operational, administrative and social spaces;

* Architectural interest: for its vernacular styling (an unusual choice for a drill hall) and its impressive hall with its early, wide-span roof structure and decorative galleries.

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