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Latitude: 52.5861 / 52°35'10"N
Longitude: -1.9772 / 1°58'37"W
OS Eastings: 401644
OS Northings: 298704
OS Grid: SP016987
Mapcode National: GBR 2G1.9T
Mapcode Global: WHBG1.L8Q7
Entry Name: Walsall Drill Hall
Listing Date: 27 April 2017
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1444604
Location: Walsall, WS1
Electoral Ward/Division: St Matthew's
Parish: Non Civil Parish
Built-Up Area: Walsall
Traditional County: Staffordshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands
Church of England Parish: Walsall St Paul
Church of England Diocese: Lichfield
A former drill hall, now a concert venue, of 1910 with some possible fabric from c.1866.
A former drill hall, now a concert venue, of 1910 built to the designs of JH Hickton and HE Farmer by the builder W Whistance, on the site of a former drill hall of c. 1866. Extended and altered in the mid and late C20.
MATERIALS & PLAN: red, blue and plum brick laid in English bond with stone dressings and partially rendered, with a lead and slate roof. The single storey hall is placed back from the street, between two-storey blocks of offices and stores which face onto Whittimere Street and Intown Row. The whole site is c.103 feet deep. The hall has a penthouse roof. A long, narrow room to the south-east of the hall, which was added between 1887 and 1916, may have been a shooting range.
The principal fronts facing Whittimere Street and Intown Row are divided into bays by pilaster buttresses which are of dark red and blue brick. The bays between have similar brickwork to their lower body, with lighter red bricks above. Windows are boarded, but the original wooden frames of the sash windows can be seen from the interior.
The north-east front facing Whittimere Street has five bays of irregular width. The three bays at right form a near-symmetrical composition with a central narrow bay which has a portal at centre with a segmental arch of gauged brick. Its central, prominent keystone supports a first floor canted oriel window of stone with moulded mullions and transom. An oval plaque below the window reads '1910' and the parapet above has a shaped gable with the crest of the South Staffordshire Regiment at its centre, surmounted by a crown, below which a carved ribbon reads '5TH BATTALION'. The bay to left of this has two grouped windows at first floor level with a door and window to the ground floor. The bay at right has three windows to the first floor and a narrow doorway to the ground floor flanked by windows. The two bays to left of this have decorative stone and brick patterns to their gables. The wider, left bay has three grouped windows with a window and two later doors to the ground floor and the narrow right bay has mezzanine windows to light a staircase.
The south-western front to Intown Row originally had thee bays symmetrically disposed. At the centre is a single bay with ground floor portal and upper oriel window with shaped gable, exactly as on the Whittimere Street front. To left of this are two grouped bays onto which a later fire escape door and rendered panel have been superimposed. The right hand bay was originally similar, but a lower, wedge shaped block was added across this part of the front by the time of publication of the 1938 Ordnance Survey map. This later extension has five, evenly placed bays to the first floor and three to the ground floor at right, with an open porch with metal post to the left corner at ground floor level (now boxed in).
The north-eastern flank wall, which formerly abutted other buildings, now borders a car park. It is rendered and has buttresses at regular intervals, some of which appear to be later additions.
The central hall has steel trusses which appear to be of the Belgian truss type which was popular at the start of the C20 and are therefore likely to date from the rebuilding of 1910. At the south-western end the ground floor spaces have been reconfigured to accommodate the new use of the building as a dance hall and concert venue. At first floor level at this end is a room extending for the full length of the original façade which has wood panelling to the dado line on its two longer walls. The oriel window overlooking the street has been boarded up. Outside this room and overlooking the hall is a deep viewing or band platform with a cast and wrought iron balustrade, which dates from 1910. It is approached from an open, dog-leg staircase with similar balustrade. At the north-eastern end the first floor room is similar in size to that at the opposite end. It has dado and picture rails and a suspended ceiling. A canted, wooden oriel window at the centre of the south-western wall overlooks the hall.
The narrow room attached to the south east flank wall of the building has a glazed penthouse to the centre of its roof and a skylight to its southern end.
A drill hall is recorded on this site from c.1866. It was shown on the Ordnance Survey map published in 1887, and occupied the same footprint on the map published in 1903, although with a thin extension on the south-east flank. The map of 1916 also shows the same footprint, but with a further addition along the south-east flank which then followed its full length. A date plaque on the south-western front of the building records the rebuilding of the great majority, if not the entirety, of the building in 1910. A two-storey extension with lower roof line was added to the right of the Intown Row front between 1916 and 1938, although this appears to have been planned by Hickton and Farmer and appears on their design drawings .
The building was used by other divisions of the South Staffordshire Regiment, including the 4th Battalion who were presented with their Boer War medals in the hall in 1901. In 1904 the hall is recorded (see SOURCES, Kelly) as also being in the use of the Queen's Own Royal Regiment of Staffordshire Imperial Yeomanry. The First and Second Companies of the 5th Battalion were formed at the hall in August and September of 1914.
The building ceased to be a drill hall in the 1950s and has since been a billiard hall and a dance hall. It is now a concert venue.
The former Walsall Drill Hall, Whittimere Street and Intown Row, Walsall is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: the drill hall, on this site from 1866, was a base for the South Staffordshire Regiment during the Boer War and both World Wars;
* Architectural quality: the drill hall, as rebuilt by Hickton and Farmer in 1910, has two good fronts to Intown Row and Whittimere Street, both designed in a free style which was unusual and relatively advanced for a building of this type at that date;
* Intact survival: despite changes to the purpose of the building, the majority of the original structure has survived and its former functioning as a drill hall is clear.
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