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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Mystery drill hall - help sought, please


Dragon
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I must admit the terraced houses made me think of that kind of area.

The three stepped blocks in the middle distance are too big to be mere dwelling houses. They must be either institutional or industrial (the chimney configuration suggests the former).

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For what it's worth, I'll add my twopenneth.

The picture is lit fairly evenly, yet there's not much contrast between any of the buildings' walls and roofs which possibly rules out slate on the latter and therefore, most of Wales? The terraced buildings above the railway line do look industrial - even governmental - rather than agricultural - maybe housing for a quarry nearby or possibly connected with the railway; It's a pity we can't see where the roadway from these buildings goes off to on the left. Agree with Keith (Rockdoc) that it isn't likely to be an aerial shot as there is a bush or tree top in the bottom right corner which, from the detail shown, appears to be quite close to the photographer - unless the pilot was flying very low (not unheard of in those days).

I wondered about Yorkshire & Derbyshire but, as a real outsider, Dartmoor or Exmoor maybe?

NigelS

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The properties:

3343195303_586a470e62_o.jpg

Sorry - the image pixellates if I take it much larger.

My own thoughts about the Peak District possibility is that the field boundaries tend to be much starker, with less use of hedge and more use of stone so that the landcape is more starkly patterned. All I can grab quickly from my PC is a sample I took in January:

3344037196_be62eaaf3c.jpg

I don't dismiss the idea, but having worked in the foothills of the the Peak District it didn't immediately come to my mind.

I contine to be very appreciative of suggestions. I wish I could work out what the caption refers to.

Thanks!

Gwyn

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Massive fade correction shows that it's a sunny day.

3344047794_5ff7bb4162_o.jpg

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There seems to be a station or, more likely, a halt to the right of the train. I wonder if there are any Bradshaws on line? There's also a footbridge over the railway that paths from both lots of buildings reach but no sign of a corresponding path on this side of the tracks unless there's another road or, perhaps, a canal between the lines of trees. A road and railway running parallel, as I wrote earlier, suggests this is a pass in a difficult area. If there were a canal in the same area it would almost have to follow the same route. Whatever lies between those trees is at the same level as the fields but the line of trees suggests that it's separated from them.

I'm currently wondering about somewhere on the Leeds & Liverpool or Huddersfield Narrow canals but I don't know anything about either beyond they both pass through this kind of countryside.

There's a pathway running towards left of the image that appears to be a continuation of those around the buildings on the right. It doesn't join the road directly but there appears to be another footbridge that connects the two. I wonder if that means there's a settlement to the left of the image?

Keith

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It's a very intruiging thread on so many counts! What exactly is that house? Is it a farm? It seems to have a very well kept garden and rows of potatoes?? to it's right?

If it's a drill hall (built circa 1900-1918) - the right hand wing appears to have a second storey. Did drill halls usually posses second floors? It may be a photographer's mistake in labelling the wrong photo with this caption.

Could it be more of a barrack building for a rural Yeomanry and Hussar mounted Territorials? For some reason Montgomery Horse seems to be in my mind. Don't ask me why! A garrison block? A church hall?

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Hi Geraint

Very often a drill hall was maintained by a time-served sergeant - a caretaker sergeant, who did some training as well as caretaking. He would live there with his family and also carry out some administrative tasks. The residential accommodation was usually a generously-sized house which was part of the drill hall and attached to it; it wouldn't be unusual to have several bedrooms on the first floor, given family sizes in that era, and two or three large rooms downstairs, plus the usual kitchen, scullery and so on. Often the armoury was indoors under his careful watch. I've been round quite a few with this sort of accommodation. Your drill hall in Ruthun is a baby drill hall! Thinking of others in your area - if you know the one in Denbigh, the house is to the right of the drill hall when you face it. Holywell has a two storey facade and a single storey hall, Acrefair has the caretaker house joining it at the back, Rhyl is two storey and has a house at the back, Connah's Quay had a large drill hall house (still extant though the hall has gone), Chirk - now the ambulance station - has a large house to the right of the hall, Wrecsam (Poyser Street) has the house to the right too. I seem to have quite a sad tourism habit...

The hall part is usually single storey, though it may contain a balcony (though one of the ones in Sheffield Graeme has photographed had two storeys and horses on the first floor!). The arched door is consistent with men marching through in pairs and also the movement of equipment. The side wings are often used for stores, toilets, cloakroom, etc.

There's often a regional flavour to drill halls, as if the ones in one area were designed from the same kit of architectural parts, but I can't pick one out here, yet.

Keith - you're spotting some intriguing clues. I wish there were a way to compile a map and then search on Live Search Maps for something that matches.

Gwyn

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The footbridge between the road and the path intrigues me. The slope on which the railway is terraced appears to be a continuation of the slope of the hillside above but the presence of a bridge suggests there's a deep gap the other side of the railway at that point but there's clearly nothing like that where the buildings are. Perhaps the area between the two lines of trees is a river and there's a canal or railway going into a tunnel under the buildings? I rather favour it being a canal because that path falls after the bridge to the road and then levels out as if it's reached a tow-path. Another oddity is what looks like a small scree-slope in front of the RH buildings, held back by a retaining wall I think. I don't see how it could be mine waste as it's just not big enough in scale.

Wherever it is, the soil's thin. The dark marks on the steep section in the mid-ground are where the soil's moved - slip marks in the jargon. Although I can't see any animals, on that basis I would think the farms are more likely to keep sheep or cattle than be arable. That might explain the farmer's vegetable patch.

Keith

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Gwyn

Just to follow on from Rockdoc's last post the area reminds me of the approach to Llangollen from Trevor. if you follow the line of the canal on Multimap you can see where the old railway went.

Just a thought and probably wrong but good luck anyway.

Garth

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Thanks for that Gwyn.

I may well have thought the standards for all drill halls according to the titchy-witchy Ruthin one!

Garth suggested the Dee Valley Llangollen/Corwen A5 road. I must confess I originally thought of Berwyn/ Glyndyfrdwy in that area on first glance, but as I know that area reasonably well, I couldn't locate such an unique building, and then thought about Montgomery with the same soaring uphill systems.

Geraint

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I Think Keith may have something with his canal and river theory:

post-5512-1236703786.jpg

The circled area looks as if there's an object - is this your scree Keith ? - or a building of some sort which is being reflected in still water; also running alongside it, in front of the right hand cottages is, apparently, a path or track - why have seperate one if there was already a road? I'm wondering if the ellipse I've added encloses, not a path, as I first thought, but a fast running water course which is culverted under the canal, if it is such , before it continues in the scar to the right of the "industrial" buildings and then passes under the railway and into the river. Even if that isn't a watercourse, I would have thought that water must have still flowed in the deeper clefts which run down the hillside behind the right hand cottages. Looking at the "industrial" buildings, I'm wondering if these have been abandoned; some of the doorways and windows look very blank when compared with the right hand block of cottages. If this is the case they probably haven't survived and so might not appear on modern maps & aerial/sat. photos, etc..

NigelS

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Which might suggest that the white building on the left of the photo is a lock keeper's cottage. Even if this is no longer there the lock will remain ands should show on any map.

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Nigel,

That's a brilliant leap! Well done. It covers all the things I saw. The area you circled isn't my scree, though. It's the white-ish area underneath the word canal. If that level is a canal, it's possible that the area I thought was scree is dumped mud where the canal's been dredged. On second thoughts, it could be gardens/allotments, although I'm a bit puzzled by the darker rectangle in the LH part of the enclosure. Given the size of the enclosure, perhaps it's a market garden?

Which might suggest that the white building on the left of the photo is a lock keeper's cottage. Even if this is no longer there the lock will remain ands should show on any map.

With the rectangle on the end wall, I couldn't work out if it was the roof of a lean-to or the sign for a road-side (now canal-side) pub.

Keith

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I have had a close look at the buildings and they look like typical workmens' housing to me. Lots of windows, lots of chimneys suggests 2 up, 2 down sort of thing. The houses on the right and further back, also suggest small industry rather than agricultural workers. I wonder if there is a sizeable quarry or colliery in the area but off picture? All the miners rows I ever saw were single storey but that may not have been true in other parts of the country. Something not too far away employed a couple of dozen, perhaps forty men. Hardly enough for a pit. A quarry then, at the other end of the well trodden path, maybe?

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Thank you! I'm going to annotate a copy of the image with the suggestions so far. Back soon.

Incidentally I have searched the historical directories site and the full-sized Oxford Dictionary.

Geraint - some drill halls are spaces with walls round them and Rhuthun is one. Doubtless there was great civic pride when Mary Cornwallis West and George Gregson Ellis dug the first sod or whatever they did, back in the 1890s. (I had to lie down to see that!!) I wrote something once about the lads scampering in the school playground and then forming a line to sign away their childhood, but I took it offline because the way I write doesn't appeal to some members of this forum. I find it a most haunted place, that juxtaposition of buildings. Whatever its size, it's good that it remains and is in use.

Gwyn

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Gwyn. That line brings hairs on end! So true. School opposite the drill hall. 1914 "Just form a line boys; and cross the road..."

Lady Cornwallis West was a lady with QUITE a reputation, as King Edward found to his immense pleasure.

Not much help on this particular drill hall though -_-

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Hi All

Reminds me of near Tebay on the way up to the Lake District, the M6 runs up the valley alongside the railway line and you can see the houses on the hillside.

Regards Barry

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First try. I can easily edit and add continuations. These are people's suggestions:

3344321669_aabac466c0_o.jpg

(Spouse who's a civil engineer reckons that the ?path is a path, not a watercourse.)

Gwyn

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Hi All

Reminds me of near Tebay on the way up to the Lake District, the M6 runs up the valley alongside the railway line and you can see the houses on the hillside.

Regards Barry

If there is a canal in the photo it would then have to be the Lancaster Canal on its way up to Kendal (doesn't go that far now). Can't find anywhere that the canal, railway and a river run in parallel _ perhaps I need a better map?

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The terrain looks promising (on Google Earth), Barry, and there seems to be mining/quarrying in those parts and some buildings not dissimilar to those in Gwyn's pic.

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Hi All

I wonder if the word "Spitepull" has anything to do with the railway line. Perhaps the photographer was more interested in the train pulling up the incline. Tebay is famous for trainspotters taking photos. Two main lines joined there and locos were based there to assist. The villge was built alongside the railway, terraced houses and quarrying. Doesn't the road going infront of the cottages carry on down the dip and up the otherside at the "reflection" then infront of the cottages, turns left between the houses and makes its way up the hill to the right. Is it possible that the Canal is another railway line and the lock keepers cottage is a signal box? There were a number of smaller lines as well as the 2 main ones.

Over to you!!!

Regards Barry

PS The houses look like normal 2 up 2 down terraces to me, plenty of 'em like that in't North, just count the chimneys.

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My tuppence worth,

I think the "canel" is the road and the "reflected object" is part of an embankment to bridge the dip caused by the culvert / river, also wouldn't the canel have been built / dug on the flater land where the railway is running.

Could "Spitepull" be the name of the farm ?

Grant

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