Bexhill’s very first drill hall was, in fact, located behind the Queen’s Head on Belle Hill
At around the end of the 19th century, due to the need for men to fight in the South African War, the volunteer movement was expanded and to provide the training facilities needed for the Artillery a new Drill Hall was built at the south-eastern corner of the down.
On 21st September, 1901, the new Hall was opened by Lord Brassey – it was the largest Hall in the town, at that time.
Many decades later, in 1967, it was bought by the post office and used as such up until, at least, the present day (2016).
On 5th February 1913, the Royal Ancient Order of Buffaloes held the annual Old Folks Dinner in the Drill Hall.
In 1915, a hall was built for the other local Territorial Army units, on its western side, near the junction of the Little Common and Downs roads.
On 21st September 1901, the Bexhill Observer reported the opening of the Drill Hall and gave details of the rooms and their layout.
“At last the Bexhill Artillery Volunteers are safely and comfortably housed in their new Drill Hall, which has been built on land purchased from Mr. Dunn at the south-eastern corner of the Down. The building is found immediately on the right as one passes under the railway arch. The frontage is somewhat imposing, being of the castellated form of architecture, giving the appropriate appearance of a fort to the hall.”
“The interior is most spacious, being one hundred feet long and forty-six feet wide, thus providing ample room for drill excluding the rear portion, which is reserved for the guns, the hall is eighty feet in length, It is paved with wood blocks, while the flooring at the rear is composed of cement.”
“On the east side of the building are a number of small rooms. That nearest the entrance (twelve feet by ten feet) to the drill instructor’s office; next to this is an apartment for the officer on duty (fourteen feet by ten feet): then the Sergeants’ room (thirteen feet by eleven feet); then the men’s recreation room (twenty feet square),which is provided with a bar, which also serves the Sergeants’ room.”
“Further on is the armoury and saddlery department, and beyond is the clothing store. There are no windows in the hall, which is lighted through the roof in the day and at night by electricity, two arc lamps being suspended from the roof, while the side rooms and offices are rolex replica illuminated with electric incandescent glow lamps. It will, therefore, be seen that the hall is thoroughly well-equipped, convenient, and commodious.”
“The plans for the building were drawn by Mr. J. B. Wall, architect, of Devonshire-road, whose design has given the greatest satisfaction. The work of the builder, Mr. Bailey, has also been of a most thorough character. The contract price was £1,700. It is understood that the money for the new Drill Hall has been advanced by Lord Bromley at a low rate of interest.”
On 23rd July, 1947, Bexhill staged a pageant covering the history of the town, from King Offa’s time to the, then, present day. The photograph above shows part outside the Drill Hall.
The Bexhill Observer of 23rd of July 1927 reported at great length the day’s events but the following explained the reason for the pageant.
“A BEAUTIFUL PAGEANT”
“The subject to the pageant was based on the history of Bexhill, which was compiled by councillor W. H. Mullins, J. P., D. L., From various authorities and existing documents dealing with the history of the borough, and from contemporary historical episodes.”
The day was looked upon as a public holiday to give all the townspeople full opportunity of joining in the proceedings.