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The Drill Hall

Farringdon, London

The Drill Hall on Farringdon Road has an interesting history. 1859 was the beginning of a period of national paranoia centred around an imminent invasion of Great Britain by the French and her allies. This gave rise to the raising of local volunteer regiments which were related to professions and artisans. The Drill Hall was built in 1888, in response to this and became the HQ of the 2nd City of London Rifle Volunteer Corps.

That unit became the 6th (City of London) Battalion the London Regiment (City of London Rifles) in 1908. The battalion was mobilised at the drill hall in August 1914 before being deployed to the Western Front. They were predominantly printers by profession.

On the night of 8 September 1915, Zeppelin L13 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy attacked London, and two of his bombs hit Messrs Frank Stadelman’s warehouse at 59–61 Farringdon Road. Falling masonry from the building did considerable damage to the Drill Hall behind. The Drill Hall was repaired in 1917.

The London Regiment was broken up and the battalion moved out to Sutton in its new role as an anti-aircraft unit in the mid-1930s, the hall fell vacant.

In 1947 the Drill Hall became the home of 167 (City of London) Field Ambulance and 168 (City of London) Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps (TA). The hall had fallen vacant again by 1967 when the field ambulances went through a re-organisation and a new unit (217 (London) General Hospital) was formed at the Braganza Street drill hall in Walworth.

The building is credited, in some online sources, to the architect Alfred J Hopkins. He was an American born on March 14th 1870, and with the Drill Hall recorded as being built between 1887 and 1888 it would seem unlikely that he was an architect at 16 or 17 years of age and therefore the designer.

E2 have been employed by our client , Max Barney Ltd, to submit for planning for a new roof to the Drill Hall, to replace the existing roof, which is failing, damaged and inefficient in several respects.

The proposal is to remove the existing historic Georgian wired panels of glass and sub frames from the roof and the gable, the existing interlocking concrete tiles and the flat roof felt and asphalt covered sections. The glazed roof areas will be clad with a more thermally efficient lightweight composite glazing system to reduce the solar gain and glare currently experienced internally. The glazing to the gable will be replaced by a new fire safe stud wall, with an aluminium rainscreen cladding that will replicate the trace of the existing glazing. The tiled areas will be clad with a smooth dark grey coloured synthetic slate roof tile with a dressed edge. Flat roof areas will be clad with a warm roof single ply membrane system.

The interior of the Drill Hall will be repaired and refurbished to reveal and celebrate its exquisite historic detailing, following E2’s light-touch Contemporary Conservation approach, in order that the space can once again be enjoyed in all its original splendour for generations to come.

The aim is to restore the historic building, bringing it back into use following years of neglect and disrepair (despite it being in use until very recently), so that it can stand proudly for another one hundred plus years; taking its rightful place as a stealth, often overlooked, jewel of military heritage in the heart of Farringdon.

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