The building was designed by Anderson Simon & Crawford in 1900-1901 and restored and reconstructed by Malcolm Fraser (phase 1) and Moray Royles, (phases 2 & 3), both in 2004. It is a 2-storey (3-storey at rear), 7-bay, approximately rectangular plan neo-Baroque former drill hall which has been converted to an arts and education centre and offices. The principal elevation is of polished sandstone ashlar, the side elevations are of squared and snecked rubble with polished ashlar dressings and the rear elevation of the office section is of red brick. The hall itself is built of red and cream brick. There is a base course, cill course and a mutuled cornice at the eaves. The segmental pedimented central bay is slightly advanced with a wide segmental-arched pend opening with Gibbs surround and flanked by banded pilasters that are topped by obelisks. An inscription over this opening reads '7th Bn The Royal Scots' and there is a carved coat of arms and the date 1901 in the tympanum. There are carved Roman military motifs at the first floor in bays 2 and 6. The front elevation has bipartite windows with stone mullions windows
There is 15-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows to the front elevation and multi-pane glazing in metal and timber frames in fixed pane and casement windows to the west (side) elevation. The piended roof is of green-grey slates and has a cupola and there are tall corniced chimney stacks with red cans.
The interior, which was seen in 2015, retains many early 20th century fittings, including timber chimneypieces, some with gesso decoration, dadoes and timber panelled doors in a number of offices on the ground and first floors. The original officers' room on the first floor is particularly noteworthy with symmetrically arranged doors, timber panelling to door height and good decorative plasterwork on the coved ceiling. The adjacent room, the original company meeting room, is simpler but also has a high coved ceiling and plain plasterwork. The stairwell to the west side has fine detailing in the panelled dado, good timber bannisters and rail with carved newel finials, and elaborate square compartmented plasterwork. The former armoury retains the early 20th century iron grill. The early 20th century fittings have been retained in one ground floor toilet. The drill hall roof is supported by shallow trussed arches borne on internal brick buttresses and there are large roof lights. The alterations of 2004 included the insertion of artists' pods around the edge of drill hall.
Statement of Special Interest
The former Dalmeny Street drill hall and headquarters of the 5th Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Scots are of outstanding significance because of the high quality of the design and interior features. It is one of the largest and best detailed examples of a drill hall in Scotland, largely retaining its original external appearance and internal elements. The building was designed in 1900-1901 by the prominent architectural practice Anderson Simon & Crawford, using the Neo-Baroque or 'Wrenaissance' style and is an early example of the use of this style in Scotland, which became more prevalent at the end of the first decade of the 20th century. In 2004 it was converted to an arts and education centre, to a design by Malcolm Fraser with Moray Royles. It makes a significant contribution to the largely domestic streetscape in this part of Edinburgh.
This building has significant historic interest because of its connection to the worst disaster to befall the community of Leith. On Friday 22 May 1915 a southbound troop train crashed into a stationary local train outside the signalbox at Quintinhill, near Gretna, and was then hit by a northbound express. 227 passengers were killed and 246 injured. 485 officers of the 7th battalion of the Royal Scots, on their way to Gallipoli, were on the train, 214 of whom were killed. Relatives of the soldiers congregated outside the drill hall seeking news, and eventually a list of the dead was read out from a window, before being posted up outside. By Sunday the bodies had been transported from Gretna to Leith Central Station, and were taken to the drill hall then functioning as a temporary mortuary.
The plans for Dalmeny Street Drill Hall and offices were drawn up in November 1899 and the building was opened on 7 December 1901. During the course of construction in 1900-1901 part of the gable of the drill hall was blown down and the arrangement of windows in the gable was slightly amended as a result. An additional bay at the south end of the hall with underground storage for targets was proposed later but it is unclear if this was executed. A study of the original plans, Ordnance Survey maps and the current building shows that the footprint of the building and its external appearance is largely unaltered. Minor differences exist between the plans and the building as constructed - for example the position of the lantern on the roof was moved slightly south. The overall cost of the building, which was recorded at the time of opening in 1901, was about £13,000. This was considerably more than most other drill halls in the city.
By the early 20th century the neo-Baroque or 'Wrenaissance' style had influenced the design of some drill halls in England and Scotland soon followed suit. The style used here may have been the choice of the architects, Anderson, Simon and Crawford, as both Frank Worthington Simon and Alexander Hunter Crawford had strong connections with England. The practice was formed when Simon and Crawford merged theirs with the well-established and long running practice of Robert Rowand Anderson. The architectural journal 'The Builder' specifically mentions Frank Worthington Simon as being responsible for the design of Dalmeny Street drill hall. In 1898-9 Simon had also designed the substantial Edinburgh Industrial Brigade Home at Fountainbridge. This was given good coverage in the press with an illustration and articles published at the time of its opening on 4 April 1899, and may have persuaded the client to select the firm. Many architects were also chosen to design drill halls because they were themselves involved in the Volunteer Movement. Crawford did serve as an officer with the Army Motor Reserve between 1906 and 1910, and may have had earlier military connections, but it is not currently known if any of the three members of the practice were involved as volunteers prior to the Dalmeny Street hall being built.
In the late 1850s there was concern in the British Government about the Army's ability to defend both the home nation as well as the Empire. Britain's military defences were stretched and resources to defend Britain needed to be found. One solution was to create 'Volunteer Forces', a reserve of men who volunteered for part-time military training similar to that of the regular army and who could therefore help to defend Britain if the need arose.
In 1859 the Rifle Volunteer Corps (and Artillery Corps in defended coastal areas) were formed and the Volunteer Act of 1863 provided more regulation on how the volunteer forces were run and it set out the standards for drills and a requirement for annual inspections. Most purpose-built drill halls constructed at this time were paid for by a major local landowner, the subscriptions of volunteers, local fundraising efforts or a combination of all three. The Regulation of the Forces Act 1871 (known as the Cardwell Reforms after the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell) gave forces the legal right to acquire land to build a drill hall and more purpose-built drill halls began to be constructed after this date. The largest period of drill hall construction, aided by government grants, took place between 1880 and 1910. The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (known as the Haldane Reforms after the Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane) came into force in 1908 and the various Volunteer Units were consolidated to form the Territorial Force. The construction of drill halls largely ceased during the First World War and in 1920 the Territorial Force became the Territorial Army.
In the 20th century changes in warfare and weaponry made many of the earlier drill halls redundant and subject to demolition or change to a new use. Around 344 drill halls are believed to have been built in Scotland of which 182 are thought to survive today, although few remain in their original use. Drill halls are an important part of our social and military history. They tell us much about the development of warfare and the history of defending our country. They also, unusually for a nationwide building programme, were not standardised and were often designed by local architects in a variety of styles and they also have a part to play in the history of our communities.
The requirements for drill halls were basic – a large covered open space to train and drill as well as a place for the secure storage of weapons. The vast majority of drill halls were modest utilitarian structures. Most drill halls conformed to the pattern of an administrative block containing offices and the armoury to store weapons along with a caretaker or drill instructors accommodation, usually facing the street. To the rear would be the drill hall itself. Occasionally more extensive accommodation was required, such as for battalion headquarters where interior rifle ranges, libraries, billiards rooms, lecture theatres and bars could all be included.
Category changed from B to A, statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016 as part of the Drill Halls Listing Review 2015-16. Previously listed as '30-38 (Even Nos) Dalmeny Street, Territorial Army Drill Hall'.
Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 236511
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1905, published 1908) Edinburghshire 003.04 (includes: Edinburgh). 25 inches to the mile. 3rd edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Edinburgh City Archives. Dean of Guild plans 19/03/1900
The Builder (13 April 1901) p.364.
Edinburgh Evening News (3 July 1901) p.2.
Gifford, J. et al. (1988) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books. p.463.
Glasgow Herald (4 October 1880) p.7.
Historic Environment Scotland (2016) Scotland's Drill Halls Preliminary Report. Unpublished.
Scotsman (7 December 1901) p.1.
Scotsman (9 December 1901) p.10.
Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Alexander Hunter Crawford at
http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200056 [accessed 14/01/2016].
Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Frank Worthington Simon at
http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200057 [accessed 14/01/2016].
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Printed: 25/06/2022 11:05