Plans to ‘safeguard’ Drill Hall for future generations are welcomed

Plans to safeguard community use of Horsham’s Drill Hall for future generations has been welcomed.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 12:05 pm
County Times coverage of the Save Drill Hall campaign in early 2020

The original proposals by Horsham District Council for affordable flats on the ex-Army hall site in Denne Road proved massively unpopular in early 2020.

The proposals, although not yet signed off, have been warmly welcomed.

Outside of the Drill Hall the former Chairman of the District Council Cllr Christian Mitchell (centre), Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh OBE TD DL (centre left), Chairman of the Queen’s Regimental Association (Horsham Branch) Steve Bell (second centre left), President of The Queen’s Regimental Association Colonel Antony Beattie (centre right) and with former members of the Queen’s Regiment on the occasion of a lunchion in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s Regiment at the Horsham Branch held in the Drill Hall, Horsham on Sunday, 26 March 2017.

Christian Mitchell (Con, Holbrook West), who launched a campaign to save the Drill Hall for the community and organised the very first meeting in February 2020 with the Royal British Legion, Lib Dem councillor Frances Haigh and HDC officers, said: “Like so many, I want the Drill Hall to remain in the heart of our town for the community to use across the town and district.

“The Drill Hall is a building of great social and military significance to the town of Horsham and our district.

“In 1927 the Drill Hall was built using public donations and efforts. It had two uses, first it was the headquarters of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment and secondly it was a public social space. And all built by the community though public subscription.

“And now nearly 100 years after the Drill Hall was built the Royal British Legion Horsham Branch and the community is again to be applauded to holding dear to those values embodied in the Drill Hall.

“The Royal British Legion Horsham Branch’s proposal if agreed by cabinet and councillors at full council will safeguard the Drill Hall for community use for future generations.

“The Drill Hall made history and is to be treasured.”

Martin Boffey (LDem, Trafalgar) said: “The threat to Horsham’s wonderful Drill Hall was the issue that prompted me to get more active in local politics, including setting up the petition against its closure and challenging this proposal directly in an HDC Cabinet meeting.

“Now, as a district councillor, I am really excited to see how far the Royal British Legion’s plan to give the Drill Hall new life has come. I’m very keen to work with the Council, the RBL and other stakeholders to it get over the line and save this important community facility - and part of our heritage - for current and future generations.”

Readers took to the County Times’ Facebook page to welcome the proposals, praising them as a ‘fantastic idea’.

One reader wrote: “I have fond memories of the Drill Hall and the Royal Artillery functions it will be wonderful if my memories could be kept going.”

Another said: “My dad played trumpet at the dinner dances there for years. Be great to see it being used back in its former glory.”

Another wrote: “Totally agree with it being a RBL building far better than it being torn to bits and made flats.”