What were Drill Halls?
You might think this is a silly question, they were halls for doing drill !
However, as with most Victorian endeavours, there was never just one purpose or intention in what was done. The Victorian society was very paternalistic, sometime in the best meaning of the word! Amongst other things they wanted to ‘improve’ their fellow man and help him achieve his potential. They were interested in the Greek ideal of a sound mind in a healthy body and so encouraged both exercise and education, as well as an interest in Arts and Sciences.
Drill Halls were a useful vehicle for these aspirations, delivered through a Patriotic duty to be prepared and constantly ready to defend your country from foreign enemies.
Performing drill taught attention to detail; in maintaining your kit, listening to instructions and following them precisely without loss of time. It also taught self-discipline, self reliance, and team work. Prominent authorities at that time believed that teaching working fathers, and young men, these useful personal skills would raise the quality of life of the whole country as their examples filtered through family life into general society.
But what did you do with the space on the many times when drill was not taking place? The answers were always variations on the same themes throughout the country, use it for community activities such as fundraising occasions, Magic Lantern lectures educating people about foreign lands and/or Missionary work, competitions for produce or pets, and most welcome of all perhaps music and dance.
The document below is reproduced with the permission of Gwyneth Roberts and Graeme Fisher of the Drill Halls Project.