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Angus Classic Interiors, (former Drill Hall), 13 Bank Street, Brechin

A Category C Listed Building in Brechin, Angus

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Latitude: 56.7325 / 56°43'56"N

Longitude: -2.6564 / 2°39'23"W

OS Eastings: 359936

OS Northings: 760283

OS Grid: NO599602

Mapcode National: GBR WW.YYZJ

Mapcode Global: WH8RG.519M

Plus Code: 9C8VP8JV+XC

Entry Name: Angus Classic Interiors, (former Drill Hall), 13 Bank Street, Brechin

Listing Name: Angus Classic Interiors (former Drill Hall), 13 Bank Street, Brechin

Listing Date: 5 April 1979

Last Amended: 25 May 2016

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406057

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB22414

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Brechin

County: Angus

Town: Brechin

Electoral Ward: Brechin and Edzell

Traditional County: Angus

Tagged with: Drill hall

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This former drill hall was built in 1879-80 with extensions in 1892. Thomas Martin Cappon (with Patrick Hill Thoms) designed the offices at the front of the building in 1896-1897. It is a 2-storey, 3-bay, approximately rectangular plan Free Jacobean style former drill hall and offices, which is now commercial premises (2015). The materials used are squared and snecked pink rubble with polished ashlar dressings. The central gabled bay of the principal elevation rises to three storeys and has a wide round arched entrance with a recessed door, surmounted by a sculpted lion and unicorn holding the Black Watch crest, with cartouches/scrolls inscribed '2nd VBRH'' and 'Black Watch'. The stepped gable has a broken pediment with ball finialled stalk and a large oculus (round window) with a decorative surround. There is mainly 6-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows with stone mullions, with the central windows also having transoms. There are grey slates on the roof and corniced chimney stacks with some yellow clay cans.

The interior has not been seen. Photographs taken in November 2015 show some surviving late 19th century elements. The interior of the hall, now subdivided, is timber lined with a shallow arched roof on cast iron supports. Some simple late 19th century plasterwork, timber panelled doors and a timber stair survive in the office section.

Statement of Interest

Built in 1879-80, with extensions in 1892 and with offices added in 1896-7, this former drill hall in Brechin is one of a relatively small number of surviving drill halls dating from before the 1880s which was the start of the most intense period of drill hall construction. No architect for the original hall section has been recorded but the 1896-7 offices are an early work of the well-respected Dundee architect, Patrick Hill Thoms, when he was working as assistant in the office of Thomas Martin Cappon. The offices are designed in a free Jacobean style, elements of which Thoms continued to use in his later work, and the principal elevation has a number of good stonework details, including a distinctive gable and large crest. The building makes a striking contribution to the varied architecture of Bank Street.

The drill hall in Brechin was opened on 7 November 1879 for the 7th Forfarshire Rifle Volunteers (Dundee Courier, 11 November 1879). The decision to form a Volunteer Rifle Corps in Brechin was taken at a public meeting in the town in June 1859. This meeting was attended by a number of distinguished people including Lord Panmure, Lord Lieutenant of the County, who had military experience and had held a position in the War Office. This meeting was held shortly after General Peel's circular that sanctioned the establishment of Volunteer Rifle Forces in the United Kingdom.

The Corps succeeded in freeing themselves from debt soon after the construction of the hall which newspapers reported as being the result of careful management of funds. The hall was described at the time as 'commodious and well-fitted up' (Dundee Advertiser, 9 January 1892). The 1896-7 addition was for the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Royal Highlanders, the Black Watch. A sketch of the scheme appeared in the Dundee Courier of 18 September 1896 and the improvements began the following week. The extensions were inaugurated in January 1897 and cost between £400 and £500. They consisted of the addition of a new block of offices at the front of the building and are shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1901, published 1903). The footprint of the building remains unchanged since that time.

The architect nominally responsible for the extensions was the prolific Dundee architect, Thomas Martin Cappon (1863-1939) but almost certainly Cappon's assistant, Patrick Hill Thoms, (1873-1946) actually drew up the design. It is likely that Cappon secured the commission for this drill hall as he was a very enthusiastic volunteer and by the later 1890s was a senior captain in the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Black Watch. He represented the Battalion at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London.

There are many elements in the design of the building which suggest the hand of Thoms. The Jacobean mullioned and transomed windows were a favourite feature of his and can be seen in various designs, for example the Ramsay Arms Hotel in Fettercairn (1896-7) and at Craigruach, Norrie Street, Broughty Ferry of (1899) (see separate listing). The deeply recessed porch, seen at Brechin, became common in Thoms' work as it became more Arts and Crafts in character, such as The Hirsel, 389 Perth Road. These drill hall offices would seem to be an important example of the early work of Thoms, who at this point in his career favoured the neo Jacobean style.

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 (and Artillery Corps in defended coastal areas) were 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 Regulation of the Forces 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 believed 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.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016 as part of the Drill Halls Listing Review 2015-16. Previously listed as 'A Christie's Premises (Former Drill Hall) Bank Street'.

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