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Decision Summary

This building has been assessed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest. The asset currently does not meet the criteria for listing. It is not listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended.

Name: Listing and Designation Online application

Reference Number: 1414456


The postcode is taken from the Land Registry, title number: DN600776 - The Drill Hall, The Esplanade, Sidmouth, EX10 8BE. However it does not appear in your drop down menu list.

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

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Decision Date: 21-Mar-2013


Reasons for currently not Listing the Building

Context: English Heritage has been asked to consider the former drill hall on the Esplanade at Sidmouth. There is a current application for demolition of the building; a decision has been postponed pending the production of a more detailed heritage statement of significance. The building stands within the Sidmouth Conservation Area, and there is considerable local opposition to its demolition.

History and Details: drill halls were established from 1859-60 onwards, initially for the training of Rifle Volunteer Corps, to contribute to the defence of Britain against the perceived threat from France. Drill halls for the professional forces followed slightly later. Some buildings of this type were built with a considerable degree of external panache, and a number of architectural styles were adopted. Drill halls survive in large numbers, and several of those examples which are particularly early, or show especial architectural strength, have been listed.

The building under consideration was built in 1895 as a territorial drill hall, for the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment; the site was given in perpetuity by George Radford. In 1914, Kelly's Directory noted that the Territorial Drill Hall 'is a neat edifice of red brick, and has on the ground floor a drill hall, 60 by 32 feet, with a clock over the entrance; the building also includes an ante-room, and an armoury.' During the Second World War, the drill hall was used as a shelter immediately following the Dunkirk evacuation. When, in 1959, the Sidmouth branch of the Territorial Army was formed as the 1st Rifle Volunteers, the drill hall was used as its headquarters. The building has been put to a number of non-military uses during the course of its history: from its opening in 1895 it had a theatrical licence, and in the early C20 it was used for film shows before the opening of Sidmouth's cinema; in 1923 it was home to Sidmouth's 'Summer Pavilion', hosting a variety of entertainments. Following the Second World War, was used by the local community for a number of sports and events. From 1955 the drill hall was used by the English Folk Dance and Song Society's for the Sidmouth Folk Week, which continues to this day, in a marquee erected next to the hall.

The red-brick building is of extremely simple design, and fairly small for a building of this date and type, occupying a rectangular footprint on a south/north alignment. When first built, the drill hall had an open basement, said to have been constructed as a rifle range; it appears from an old photograph provided by the applicant (in J Ankins, 'Sidmouth, A History: Jacobs Ladder to the Alma Bridge ', p 91), that there was a platform at ground-floor level, allowing access to four door openings with rectangular fanlights above. The basement openings have now been filled, and the platform removed; some of the door openings have been blocked, and others replaced by windows. Two roof-lights in the eastern slope of the roof have been removed, together with a chimney. The entrance is in the rendered south gable end, with two first-floor windows lighting the space above the hall; the clock above the entrance, noted in 1914, has been lost. Internally, the ground-floor hall remains open, with its hammerbeam wooden roof trusses intact, the brackets with Gothic piercings supported on stone corbels. The photographs provided of the upper floor are not such as to allow us to make an assessment of this area. We understand that fireplaces remain within the building, but photographs of these have not been provided.

Assessment: buildings and structures post-dating 1840 must demonstrate a good degree of architectural interest and a high level of survival to justify listing, due to the large numbers of buildings constructed in the period and the larger numbers which survive as a consequence; the later the date of the building, the more strictly the criteria will be applied. Whilst change of use may represent a significant element in a building's history, in later buildings the survival of the original form will generally be an important consideration. The English Heritage Sports and Recreation Buildings Selection Guide (April 2011) offers further guidance on the assessment of buildings falling within this category, including drill halls, noting that architectural distinction will be a consideration, as will rarity, structural interest, and early date.

The following considerations are particularly relevant to an assessment of the Sidmouth Drill Hall for listing:

* Date: the building substantially post-dates the 1840 marker beyond which buildings are expected to demonstrate a high level of architectural or historical interest, and intactness, whilst as a drill hall building, it is not notably early; * Lack of Architectural Interest: the original design of the drill hall was very plain externally, and does not retain any distinctive features; internally, the hall roof is of some interest, but is low and not finely modelled, and the space is consequently neither lofty nor inspiring; * Alteration: the structure has been significantly altered, losing its basement storey, and suffering significant changes to its openings, as well as the loss of its chimney and clock.

The local interest of the drill hall, which has played an important role in Sidmouth's history for over a century, is beyond question; interest of this kind is appropriately recognised by the conservation area designation. However, the building has been significantly altered during that time, and cannot be said to possess special architectural or historical interest in the national context; it therefore does not meet the criteria for listing.

National Grid Reference: Not applicable to this List entry.

This copy shows the entry on 20-Feb-2024 at 10:02:59.