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Dragon

Lostwithiel Drill Hall, Cornwall - building at risk

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Dragon

According to the Lostwithiel Area Action Plan, 2004 - 2024, the project team carrying out the town and river study has recommended that the Drill Hall in Lostwithiel should be demolished.

It is a pre-Great War building: "The Drill Hall is a large building occupying a riverside position in the centre of town. Originally built by the army as a drill hall next to the Parade in the early 1900s it was once the focus of social life in Lostwithiel and as such is valued greatly by older residents."

I wondered whether anyone is local to the area and can confirm the current status of the drill hall.

I would also be extremely grateful for a current photograph of this building for the Drill Hall project, as it is a building at risk.

Many thanks

Gwyn

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Charles Fair

I should be passing that way late next month... If you havent heard by then I will make a detour off the A30 to see it.

Charles

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Dragon

Thanks, Kath, for those links. Having looked at the rest of the page, I think the one at Saltash appears to be quite remarkable.

Charles, thanks. Cornwall is almost finalised for upload in the very near future, by the way. Graeme is just sorting out the pictures. I'm still thinking about an 'at risk' page; I know of four Great War ones without even trying to search, and a Second World War one that's just been saved.

Gwyn

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Charles Fair

Looking forward to seeing the Cornwall page. Hopefully I might be able to fill some gaps when I am next down that way, not least by checking out the local archives in Redruth.

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Dragon

Thank you for your help. Kath, the image bank could be very useful and I've saved the link.

Proposed demolition was in the medium-term plan, which is about five years. Does anyone know whether this drill hall is still standing, please?

Gwyn

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Kath

Gwyn,

Just rang Lostwithiel Information Centre.

The Drill Hall is still standing, though in a poor state.

There are mixed feelings about its future.

A gentleman tourist was in yesterday asking the same questions.

Kath.

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Dragon

Thanks for doing that, Kath. I appreciate it.

According to the survey that was carried out in connection with the Action Plan, in answer to the question "What would we like to do with the Drill Hall - if it were possible?", of 390 respondents, '75.6% said “remove it and use the space for……An open space 32.4% Public seating 29.8% Parking 29.9% Markets 27.9% Concerts 21.4% Bandstand 21.1% Picnic area 17% Children’s playground 6.1%. Although a majority would prefer to remove it and leave an open space, 36.5% said that if it were renovated it could have various uses including a boat house, rowing club, activities for young people, a larger library, a swimming pool, a theatre, or a space for unloading for the Co-Op.'

On its condition: I haven't seen this building, and therefore I'm only making a general observation, but there is a tendency in some owners of drill halls to allow them to fall into disrepair to the point at which restoration or re-use is impractical. I know of three where this is apparently happening, one of which has the potential to be a tragic loss.

I've also come across many examples of wailing public regret after people realise what they agreed to, as soon as what may have been a town's only large hall has been converted into a car park. We need protecting from ourselves.

Gwyn

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chris basey

Now you hear from the 'gentleman' who was in the Lostwithiel Information Centre the other day asking about the Drill Hall! I needed directions and took the opportunity to 'sound out' the lady behind the desk. She holds very firm opinions about what should be done with it 'and the sooner the better' - it's an eyesore. It certaily does contrast rather with nearby buildings which have been very wel restored.

As has been said, it is used by the Army Cadet Force and has certainly seen better days. But if it's a genuine WW1 structure then the corrugated iron is in relatively good shape.

Two pictures attached.

post-702-1180029612.jpg

post-702-1180029627.jpg

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Dragon

Goodness.

Chris, you're a star!! Thank you!

Do I interpret correctly that both the roof and the walls are corrugated iron? Presumably / possibly with timber underneath? There's obviously a problem with leakage, so I fear whatever is underneath is probably also pretty damp. I rather doubt that Great War corrugated iron would last that long in those circumstances, though it might if it were properly maintained. The chimney seems of the period. What did you think when you saw it?

Are there any buildings attached or close by which might perhaps have been residential premises? Perhaps sharing similar features (eg window style)?

However, we now have photos and I'm extremely grateful. Would it be possible for you to email the image files, as I find it easier to prepare decent pictures for the website from originals?

I love the idea of Kath phoning almost simultaneously with your enquiry, Chris and both strands turning up on the Forum. It's very gratifying that people care.

Thanks again.

Gwyn

Edited by Dragon

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Graeme Fisher

So there I was, in the middle of trying to sort out Surrey's drill halls, an' you lot are banging off about Cornwall......

Brilliant pics, Chris, and some smashing detective work from Kath. Thanks, people

Gwyn's comments on the originality of the wiggly tin on Lostwithiel drill hall made me do a bit more research. There are other examples of metal clad halls of this vintage, one in Scotland having won awards when it was built. Its durability may be suspect, but if galvanised and subsequently painted, the panels should last for decades. And if not, they're easily replaced.

A bit like Trigger's broom; It's on its fourth head and third handle, but it's all original.....

Graeme

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Dragon

Abraham Lincoln's axe: five new handes and two new heads, but it's still the very one that he used.

Archive photos would be useful. If or when they do an archaeological survey, photos and old maps usually come to light in the desk-based assessment.

Local area action plan: "However, with publicity over its possible removal, the building has recently attracted strong support from some local people as a unique example of its type in Cornwall." [My bolds and italics]

Why is it unique? Is it just because all the other drill halls (the ones that I've just been preparing for the website anyway) are brick or stone? Or is there more to this?

Gwyn

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SiegeGunner

It would be a shame if this modest but historic building were to disappear. But if it is built of timber and wriggly tin, it could presumably be dismantled, rather than demolished, and re-erected somewhere else. If there is affection for the building locally, but pressure to put something else on its site is mounting, that might be an ideal solution — preferably with the developer making a hefty contribution to the cost of re-location and restoration. A new site locally would obviously be favourite, but if that isn't possible, I wonder if the IWM might consider giving it a home at Duxford? I bet they have loads of stuff in storage that could be used to 'furnish' it — and it would make a fitting tribute, of manageable proportions, to all those who trained at drill halls up and down the country throughout most of the 20th century.

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Dragon

Mmm. Nice bit of lateral thinking, Mick. In time for 2014.....

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Dragon

This little tin drill hall was saved!

http://www.lostwithiel.org.uk/news/items/drill-hall-refurbished

(Chris Basey's picture from our website features as a 'before'.)

Gwyn

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Peter Mc

Really interesting thread. My father was with the AEC during WW2 and stationed in St Austell, he often talked of Lostwithiel and did classes for the American and British troops at locations around the area, no doubt he held classes at that drill hall.

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Charles Fair

Good news. Good to see drillhalls.org acknowledged too.

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