The Drill Hall

In 1913, a new Drill Hall was proposed for F Company the 2/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters based in Arnold. The detachment was commanded by 2nd Lieuts. G. Clarke and A. F. O. Dobson The new Drill Hall was not only to be the local headquarters but also a training area and a recreation centre for Arnold.

The new Drill Hall, Arnold opened after much discussion and speculation on May 2nd, 1914. The opening ceremony was attended by a great crowd of spectators who listened to Lt Colonel Henry Mellish perform the opening presided over by Colonel C. J. Huskinson the battalion commander. Headquarters were represented by Brigadier General C. T. Shipley, Commander of the Notts and Derby Infantry Brigade, of which the 2/8th Battalion was part. Colonel F. E. Seely, and Captain W. A. Potter from the regiment were also present together with Second Lieutenant G. Clarke commanding the Arnold detachment. The local council was represented by Rev Rupert King, Vicar of St Marys, Rev F. W. Farral, Dr Stenhouse, Mr G. R. Butcher, Mr W. H. Harlow and several other members and officials.

Col. Huskinson made a short address in which he commented on the modern equipment of the Drill Hall. He declared that few companies could boast having such a building. Colonel Mellish then expressed the opinion that the new hall would be the means of keeping the company up to full strength. Brigadier General Shipley pointed out that the new 30 yards (27.5m) by 30 feet (9.14m) miniature rifle range would enable the men to become equally as good shots as if they had practiced on an open range. This should inspire them with an abundance of enthusiasm he stated.

The hall was used not only for the company but for the community as a whole. Shows and entertainment of all sorts featured highly throughout the years, especially during the two world wars.

During the 1940s, dances were very popular with Jimmy Lancaster’s Band playing regularly. The Stanton Ironworks Prize Band were also frequent performers with their soloist Edith Radford. Admission to these events was 2/- (10p) or 1/6 for HM Forces in uniform.

Typical of the shows was the one staged during Thanksgiving Week on 1st October, 1945. The concert was packed with a large number of people being turned away. Some of the acts taking part that night included Miss C. Forest, soprano, Miss B. Savage, vocalist, Mr A. Simmons, accordionist, Geoffrey Cooling (13), soprano, Gillian Maddock (8), accordion, John Colman, female impersonator, Dorothy L. Barlow, humorous monologues, Joan Butterworth, vocalist, Cadet R. Newton, Imitator, Mr B. Blunt, mouth organ and club swinging, Mr L. Watts, yodeller, Keith Hoskins, xylophonist, Roy Whittaker, pianist and Cadet F. Bull, ventriloquist.

After the War with access to other places of entertainment, the need for the hall declined and it eventually closed It still remains a landmark in Arnold, however, being converted into a printers, and then offices a function it still performs to this day

All articles © Bob Massey

The Drill Hall pictured in 2008