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Bruce Street Hall, 37-39 Bruce Street (former drill hall administration block) excluding hall to rear, Dunfermline

A Category C Listed Building in Dunfermline, Fife

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0723 / 56°4'20"N

Longitude: -3.4641 / 3°27'50"W

OS Eastings: 308957

OS Northings: 687577

OS Grid: NT089875

Mapcode National: GBR 1Y.PFQ4

Mapcode Global: WH5QR.RMMR

Entry Name: Bruce Street Hall, 37-39 Bruce Street (former drill hall administration block) excluding hall to rear, Dunfermline

Listing Date: 25 May 2016

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406001

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52373

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dunfermline

County: Fife

Town: Dunfermline

Electoral Ward: Dunfermline Central

Traditional County: Fife

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Description

This administration block for a former drill hall was designed by Fife architect Andrew Scobie in 1887-88 and is a 2-storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan building in an 'Institutional Gothic' style. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: the late 20th century hall to the rear.

The building is constructed of squared and snecked sandstone ashlar with polished ashlar dressings and raised stone cills. There are shallow, pointed-arch hoodmoulds above the segmental-arched window openings. The central bay of the principal (east) elevation is gabled, with a tripartite and roundel window set within a pointed arch above the entrance porch recess. There are shouldered, wallhead chimney stacks with octagonal clay cans in the north and south elevations and a round-arched window in the south elevation. The building has 2 and 4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows and the roof is of graded, grey slate.

The interior was partly seen in 2015. The entrance hall has been reworked for use as a public gymnasium reception area. The internal stair has decorative cast iron banisters and a hardwood handrail with a scrolled newel post.

Statement of Interest

Bruce Street hall, built 1887-88, is an architecturally interesting example of a purpose-built volunteer drill hall administrative block in the Fife region. Built in the wake of the Volunteer Act of 1863 and the Regulation of the Forces Act in 1871 it was designed by local architect and Town Provost Andrew Scobie in an 'Institutional Gothic' style. Its distinctive detailing includes pointed-arch and segmental openings and hoodmoulds to the principal elevation, which has not been significantly altered since the late 19th century. It has prominent presence in the street on the west edge of the centre of Dunfermline. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: the late 20th century hall to the rear.

Bruce Street Hall was built for the 1st Fifeshire Volunteers, whose numbers had reached more than 200 by the date of the hall's consruction. A report in the Fife Herald (Wednesday 22 June 1887) recounts the foundation stone ceremony with the usual formalities in the presence of Lord Elgin and the town Provost and 'a large crowd'. The newspaper report states that 'the completed drill hall will measure 110 feet by 66 feet and be 38 feet in height. On the ground floor was to be the armoury and orderly rooms with a passage between them forming the entrance to the hall, and a number of retiring rooms. The second floor was to have reading and recreation rooms. The hall is to be lighted from the roof with a gallery at one end, and a dwelling house for the drill instructor adjoining the hall. The cost of the building was estimated at £2000. Newspaper notices from 1888 indicate that the hall space was utilised for a variety of purposes including dog shows, flower shows and household auctions.

The hall was built on the site of a ruin, as noted on the large scale Ordnance Survey Town Plan of Dunfermline (surveyed, 1854), possibly associated with the 14th century 'Mill Port' burgh gates, one of six sets of gates built to surround the Royal burgh in 1396. The 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map, revised in 1894, shows steps to the rear of the drill hall, leading to the entrance of a natural cave, traditionally associated with Queen Margaret (11th century).

Andrew Scobie was a Dunfermline-based architect who carried out many commissions in Fife between 1870 and 1920. He was Provost of Dunfermline from 1897 to 1903, and the majority of his work was in the town, including numerous schools, tenements, commercial buildings and halls.

In the late 1850s there was concern in the British Government about the Army's ability to defend both the home nation as well as the Empire. Britain's military defences were stretched and resources to defend Britain needed to be found. One solution was to create 'Volunteer Forces', a reserve of men who volunteered for part-time military training similar to that of the regular army and who could therefore help to defend Britain if the need arose.

In 1859 the Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed and the Volunteer Act of 1863 provided more regulation on how the volunteer forces were run and it set out the standards for drills and a requirement for annual inspections. Most purpose-built drill halls constructed at this time were paid for by a major local landowner, the subscriptions of volunteers, local fundraising efforts or a combination of all three. The Regularisation of the Force Act 1871 (known as the Cardwell Reforms after the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell) gave forces the legal right to acquire land to build a drill hall and more purpose-built drill halls began to be constructed after this date. The largest period of drill hall construction, aided by government grants, took place between 1880 and 1910. The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (known as the Haldane Reforms after the Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane) came into force in 1908 and the various Volunteer Units were consolidated to form the Territorial Force. The construction of drill halls largely ceased during the First World War and in 1920 the Territorial Force became the Territorial Army.

In the 20th century changes in warfare and weaponry made many of the earlier drill halls redundant and subject to demolition or change to a new use. Around 344 drill halls are understood to have been built in Scotland of which 182 are thought to survive today, although few remain in their original use. Drill halls are an important part of our social and military history. They tell us much about the development of warfare and the history of defending our country. They also, unusually for a nationwide building programme, were not standardised and were often designed by local architects in a variety of styles and they also have a part to play in the history of our communities.

The requirements for drill halls were basic – a large covered open space to train and drill as well as a place for the secure storage of weapons. The vast majority of drill halls were modest utilitarian structures. Most drill halls conformed to the pattern of an administrative block containing offices and the armoury to store weapons along with a caretaker or drill instructors accommodation, usually facing the street. To the rear would be the drill hall itself. Occasionally more extensive accommodation was required, such as for battalion headquarters where interior rifle ranges, libraries, billiards rooms, lecture theatres and bars could all be included.

Listed in 2016 as part of the Drill Halls Listing Review 2015-16.

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