Duncan Menzies of Stewart and Menzies, 1872; Cooper and Taylor, 1904-5; and James Morris, 1923, incorporating earlier fabric. Asymmetrical 3-storey and attic former drill hall administrative offices with Scots Baronial details. Random rubble with ashlar sandstone dressings, including quoins. Crowstepped gables with gablehead stacks. The 1872 drill hall is situated to the left of the later (1904-5) administrative block and the building is located in an enclosed site which is partially visible from the street.
The drill hall is 9 bays, and the interior measures 135 x 96 feet (41 x 29 metres), with the bays divided by iron girders which span the width of the hall.
The principal (northeast) elevation of the administrative offices has a wide segmentalarched open porch with an ashlar-coped stepped battlement, including cable hoodmoulding and a carved inscription. There is a bronze inscription in a thistlefinialled aedicule above (see Statement of Special Interest section). There is a carved stone plaque to the left with the City of Edinburgh arms, and the regimental crest to the right. There are timber panelled doors to re-entrant angles of the porch. There are tripartite windows at ground, 1st and 2nd floor levels to the central bay, and a bipartite window with a gabled dormerhead breaking the eaves above. There is a small window at ground level to the left, with a 2-storey bowed tower corbelled out above.
The south wing is of 3-bays and incorporates a remnant of the former Edinburgh Charity Workhouse (see Statement of Special Interest section). The materials are random rubble with ashlar dressings. There are regular spaced window openings throughout. There is a flat-arched pend with a relieving arch to the ground level of the recessed outer left bay, and a large 2-leaf timber door to the centre.
The northwest elevation, to Greyfriars Churchyard, has projecting gabled single-bay blocks to the outer right and left and 7 intervening bays, all which are irregularly fenestrated.
The southwest elevation has stone-transomed windows at the 1st floor, with the windows to the 2nd bay from the right mullioned and a transomed tripartite. There are some slightly advanced gabled crowstepped outer blocks which are irregularly fenestrated. The right block has a small window at the 2nd floor. The left block has bartizans with small blind openings that are corbelled out at the 2nd floor level to the right and left. There are later bipartite dormers to attic.
The southeast elevation has 2 bays; there are 2 windows at the 2nd floor and gabled dormerheads breaking eaves above.
Predominantly small-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows throughout. The roof has graded grey slates and gablehead stacks with circular cans.
The interior was seen in 2015. The former drill hall office spaces have been moderately altered in the late 20th century to form office and classroom accommodation for the University of Edinburgh, however a number of 19th century features remain such as the central dog-leg stone staircase with simple metal railings and timber banister, some timber panelled doors, and simple cornicing to principal rooms. The drill hall space was subdivided in 2014 to create a mezzanine forming 2 floors.
Statement of Special Interest
The former Forrest Hill drill hall and office complex was built in two significant stages, and usually for a drill hall incorporates an earlier building on the site. The first significant part of this drill hall was built in 1872 and is one of a relatively small number of surviving drill halls dating from before the 1880s which was the start of the most intense period of drill hall construction. The building was improved in circa 1904-5 for use as a headquarters and the exterior, dating predominantly to 1904-5, has not been significantly altered since it was built. Appropriate for its headquarters function it is constructed of good quality materials and Scots Baronial details such as the crowstepped gables, corbelled towers and bartizans, and cable hoodmoulding visible on the principal and southwest elevations. It is situated in a constricted site just beyond the centre of Edinburgh's Old Town.
The rear elevations to the former drill hall are the backdrop for monuments in Greyfriars churchyard. The drill hall incorporates 3 bays of the former west wing of the U-plan Charity Workhouse, dating to 1743 (the west wing [constructed between 1817and 1852] was the 'Women and Children' section, and appears on the 1854 Ordnance Survey map), which was demolished in circa 1870 to make way for the Volunteer Drill Hall by Duncan Menzies of Stewart and Menzies, in 1872, and also partially demolished in circa 1904-5 to make way for the improved headquarters designed by Cooper and Taylor.
The inscription over the main door reads 'The Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade The Royal Scots' Headquarters.' That in the aedicule above reads 'Regiment raised 1859 Headquarters rebuilt and opened 6th of May 1905 by HRH the Duke of Connaught K.T., Colonel Sir Robert Cranston V.D., Colonel Commandant of Brigade. Lord Provost of the City.' The drill hall was the headquarters of both the 4th and 5th battalions, the Royal Scots, and the base for "A" to "H" Companies of both battalions.
The building, drill hall and administrative offices, was partially aquired in 1969 by the University of Edinburgh who shared the building with the army until circa 1990. The drill hall was used as a garage for army and university vehicles. The Department of Artificial Intelligence (and its predecessors) and then the School of Informatics occupied the building until 2008. At present (2015) the drill hall is in use by the University of Edinburgh facilities to the ground floor, and the mezzanine and former admisitrative offices are in use as classrooms, university offices, student study and computing areas.
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.
Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2015 as part of the University of Edinburgh Estate Listing Review 2015-16. Previously listed as '5 Forrest Hill, University of Edinburgh, Territorial Army Centre and School of Artificial Intelligence'.