St Paul's Drill Hall, Huddersfield


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
St Pauls Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 3DR


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Statutory Address:
St Pauls Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 3DR

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Kirklees (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Drill Hall, built 1899-1901 and designed by Captain W Cooper.

Reasons for Designation

St Paul’s Street Drill Hall, Huddersfield, built 1899 to 1901 designed by Captain W Cooper for the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: a good example of a drill hall in the castellated Tudor Revival style typical of this period of development, and especially for the impressive wide-span laminated timber roof; * Intactness: the original plan-form and function of the building remains legible; the complex retains its distinct operational, administrative and social spaces with associated original fittings; * Historical interest: as a reminder of the social and military history of the volunteer units and their impact on the urban streetscape; * Associations: the foundation stone was laid by Field Marshall Lord Roberts of Kandahar.


Drill halls originated as a building type following the formation of the Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1859. Also known as ‘drill sheds’, and commonly identified on modern Ordnance Survey maps as ‘TA Centres’, they can be defined as dedicated training facilities for the army’s volunteer units. The history of drill halls dates back to the mid-C19 when the authorities made a concerted effort to create a reserve of men with military training, arranged along the lines of the regular army. When voluntary service, as opposed to enlisting into a paid semi-professional militia, was opened up to the general population in 1859, it proved very popular. By the end of 1860 more than 120,000 had signed up. This vast new force needed accommodation, and existing local barracks and depots were often unable to take the strain. Most units were, at first, private organisations with no access to central funds. Although many of the early volunteer groups adapted existing buildings such as village halls, a purpose-built drill hall was considered the most desirable option.

Drill halls for the volunteer forces slowly began to emerge as a distinct building type and, although no two drill halls are identical, they do all share three essential elements. These combined to form a characteristic layout whereby the offices, armoury and stores were accommodated in an administrative block fronting the street, with a large hall positioned at right-angles behind (often with an indoor target range to one side and viewing balconies at either end). The third element, accommodation for the caretaker or drill instructor, could be included within the administrative block or placed separately to the rear of the hall. Whilst there are countless variations upon the basic layout, the most common is the side-by-side arrangement, with the hall running along the street beside the administrative block. The need for large unencumbered internal spaces stimulated the early use of steel roofs and experiments with laminated timber trusses (in the C19), as is the case at Huddersfield. In addition to their standard functions, drill halls acted as focal points for events within the wider community. Many were designed with this in mind and boasted of their suitability to host concerts, dances and meals. The units were a source of local civic pride and the architecture of their drill halls often reflected that.

Whilst many drill halls are simple, undistinguished, utilitarian structures with little or no embellishment, their architectural treatment can be divided broadly into four periods: 1859-1880, 1880-1914, 1914-1945 and 1945 to the present. The construction of the drill hall in St Paul's Street, Huddersfield commenced in 1899 for the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. It therefore falls into the 1880-1914 period which saw the increasing influence of the War Office and a move towards regulation and uniformity. In the late C19, buildings became larger, showing a clear preference for designs inspired by medieval castles or forts, although the domestic Tudor Revival style also became popular around 1900. Buildings of this period are characterised by simple, two-storey office blocks in front of the hall. St Paul’s Street Drill Hall was built on a former bowling green, to the design of Captain W Cooper; the foundation stone was laid in 1899 by Field Marshall Lord Roberts of Kandahar and it was completed in 1901, costing between £8,000 and £9,000 to build. In 1914 the drill hall was the base of D Squadron Yorkshire Dragoons, as well as the Headquarters and base of A-E Companies, 5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. During the war, the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment raised a total of 23 Battalions and lost 7,870 men. The drill hall has retained its military role and at the time of the inspection was used by Corunna Company, 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. From the outset, like many others, the drill hall was intended as a public venue for entertainment and sporting events, which included concerts, boxing, and latterly, wrestling matches that were promoted by Max Crabtree, the brother of Shirley 'Big Daddy' Crabtree.


Drill hall built 1899-1901 and designed by Captain W Cooper in a mock-Tudor/medieval style. C20 extensions. MATERIALS: yellow limestone, laid in random, snecked courses with ashlar dressings to the administration block and officer’s dining room; laid as bricks in a slightly random stretcher bond to the drill hall and rear ranges. Cement slate roofs with grey ridge tiles. PLAN: the administration block forms the principal elevation and fronts onto St Paul’s Street with the officer’s dining room to the right (S). The drill hall extends at right angles to the rear (E) alongside University Road (formerly Drill Street). At the E end of the hall is a link range and then a rear cross wing.

EXTERIOR: ADMINISTRATION BLOCK: The front (W) elevation is a symmetrical 2-storey, 5-bay administration block with a plinth running the full width of the building. The central bay steps slightly forward and has a crow-step gable that rises higher than the flanking bays. It has a tourelle (small turret) that rises from the N side of the first-floor and a castellated parapet to the S side, breaking the symmetry. To the centre is a carved stone plaque depicting the regimental coat of arms. At first floor level is a 6-light mullion and transom window deeply set in a splayed recess with a segmental relieving arch. Below is the main entrance in the form of a pair of timber gates set in a recessed basket arch gateway with mock drawbridge chain slots above. The upper segments of the gates form a mock portcullis, and the N gate panel has a wicket gate. The foundation stone is set in a recessed panel to the N of the gateway, it reads: THIS STONE WAS LAID / BY / FIELD-MARSHALL / LORD ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR / V.C., K.P., C.C.B., C.C.S.LI., C.C.I.E. / MAY 4TH 1899. The flanking bays are also gabled, embellished with false cruciform arrow loops. Below are 6-light mullion and transom windows to the first floor and 10-light mullion and transom windows inset beneath segmental relieving arches to the ground floor, all with leaded lights. The outer bays project slightly forward to give the appearance of square towers with castellated parapets and outer corner tourelles, with a pair of leaded transom windows to the ground-floor and a leaded transom and a mullion window to the first-floor. The roof is hipped and has a large tall ridge stack between the northern-most two bays and a smaller end stack to the S.

The side (N) elevation has the appearance of forming a rectangular tower with a castellated parapet and tourelles to each corner, all projecting slightly forward of the side wall of the drill hall. The elevation is asymmetric with a single off-set 2-light transom window to the first floor and three to the ground floor.

OFFICERS' DINING ROOM: This is a single-storey, 3-bay extension to the S of the administration block that employs similar detailing except that it has a flat roof and plain parapet. The central bay is canted, but does not project beyond the lowest plinth course, and has a 8-light mullion and transom window. Flanking bays have single, narrow, 2-light transom windows. The S end is blind and has a broad, projecting chimney stack. DRILL HALL: This has a tall, single-storey 9-bay elevation to the N, supported by projecting buttresses with sloping, stepped coping slabs. The central bay is filled by a pair of timber gates, beneath a segmental arch with an arched window above. The three bays to either side have tall arched windows with ashlar quoined surrounds and cills, and uPVC glazing units. The bays at either end have a similar window, but with much higher cills, these lighting the galleries internally. The roof is hipped to the W, merging into that of the administration block, and has a gablet at the E end above the partly hipped roof of the link range. The roof has cast-iron rainwater goods attached to timber soffit boards, above projecting ashlar corbels. It has four large 4-light skylights to either side of the ridge, set about two thirds up the roof slopes, and two square timber ridge ventilators with pyramidal caps.

REAR RANGE AND LINK RANGE: The link range is a narrow 2-bays that forms a 2-storey lean-to to the drill hall, the abutting rear range forming a 2-storey, 7-bay cross wing with a gabled roof with unusual finials. Both are simply detailed with replaced window joinery that mainly appears to imitate the likely original glazing pattern. CARETAKER'S QUARTERS: This is of three storeys with a flat roof, abutting the E of the officers' dining room & S of the administration block. It is of utilitarian design, but has snecked stonework to its blind W elevation.

PARADE GROUND: Various C20 extensions, mainly flat roofed, extend from the S side of the drill hall into the parade ground.

INTERIOR: DRILL HALL: This has a timber boarded roof, supported by wide-span, semi-circular trusses formed of laminated and bolted timber, which rise up from the sprung timber floor. The walls are of exposed, fair-faced brickwork. At either end of the hall is a full width gallery supported by timber struts. The E gallery is accessed from the link range via a central archway infilled with a glazed screen. The W gallery is accessed via two sets of stairs from the hall floor and doorways from the administration block. The E gallery front forms a First World War memorial in the form of a 3-bay Ionic temple front, framing the regimental crest and battle honours. To either side are panels carrying the names of the Fallen. Further panels and memorials are attached to the E wall both above and below the gallery. The W gallery front features a smaller, simpler war memorial to the Second World War, also in the form of an Ionic temple front. Further memorials and other plaques are attached to the W wall of the gallery either side of a large painting of a First World War battle scene. Set above is a large painted panel of a Victorian Royal crest. Along the N side wall of the hall is a set of modern portacabins. Attached to the S side wall is a Roll of Honour for those who served in South Africa 1900-02. ADMINISTRATION BLOCK AND OFFICERS' DINING ROOM: This includes, on the ground floor, the drawing room of the officers’ mess which is entered via an internal panelled-timber porch and has a coved cornice, dark timber skirting boards, panelled doors, picture rails, trophy cabinets and an Arts and Crafts-style fireplace with rail, surmounted by a glazed trophy cabinet against the chimney breast in the S wall. Next to the fireplace is a door to the officers’ dining room, which is more simply finished with a cornice, three round ceiling roses, brass wall bracket lamps, shallow skirting boards and a parquet floor. To the S wall is an infilled fireplace with a plain, stepped, grey limestone fire surround with ogee moulding and a relief of the regiments crest. To the N wall is an oak plaque listing regimental battle honours.

LINK AND REAR RANGE: This is simply treated internally. It has a large basement room with a central row of plain cast-iron columns, this being accessed externally from the parade ground, and which is used as a gymnasium.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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