Hundreds join fight to save Wellingborough’s Drill Hall

The former Drill Hall in High Street, Wellingborough
The former Drill Hall in High Street, Wellingborough

Calls have been made for Wellingborough’s former Drill Hall to be saved.

The Drill Hall has stood in Wellingborough’s High Street since the 1870s, but a heated discussion on the Wellingborough Now & Then Facebook page led to Andrew Law starting a petition to try and save the now vacant site.

More than 340 people have signed the petition so far.

Mr Law said: “The petition gained more than 300 signatures and later gained the support from Wellingborough Civic Society.

“The civic society also invited us to take pictures of the interior and it was discovered that vandals had gained access.

“The Drill Hall sits on land which is part of the regeneration of Jacksons Lane, it was intended to be used as part of the new Tresham campus.

“However, these plans have since changed as Tresham is to remain on the Church Street site.

“Since 2010 the hall has been allowed to deteriorate further and remains unoccupied.

“A planning application from Asda supermarket was rejected last year and so the hall now has an even more uncertain future.”

Chairman of Wellingborough Civic Society Bob Townson is keen to see at least some of the Drill Hall preserved if the site is developed.

He said: “You can go to other parts of the country and you won’t see ironstone because it is unique to this area.

“The Drill Hall is an old ironstone building and it is what they should try to retain.”

Society members recently went inside the hall and are now looking to come up with recommendations of possible uses for the building to put to the council.

Mr Townson said: “We thought a small market would be nice in there and then someone said we could have a single business in there.

“We still think this building could be saved. The time has come to say stop. In the past we have let things just happen, but we haven’t got many old buildings left in Wellingborough.”

He said: “At the end of the day, if all they save is the facade, at least then it would look like Hatton Hall.”

But Mr Townson added: “The thing we have to watch is if the Drill Hall goes, what’s next?”

Ian Nunney from Wellingborough Museum said: “The Drill Hall is part of our exhibition on Old Wellingborough.

“It’s a pity to lose buildings that did have quite a prominence in the town.

“It was a very useful building to have, but with more development, we are losing all the big meeting halls and meeting rooms in the town centre.

“We had cinemas, we had theatres and and we had dance halls, yet we have got nothing now.”

A spokesman for Wellingborough Council said: “The front of the Drill Hall is part of the High Street redevelopment site, and has been for many years.

“Nothing will happen to it, however, without alternative uses being explored, and extensive public consultation as part of any planning application process.”

Petition comments

“Needs to be saved before all of old Wellingborough vanishes”

“This building is a cultural part of Wellingborough. Don’t redevelop, restore”

“Don’t knock down my childhood”

“Please save this lovely building and make it come alive again”

“If you take it down there will be another piece of Wellingborough history gone. There won’t be anything left soon”

“I think this lovely old building should be saved and put to good use for the people of Wellingborough”

“This place must be saved, please do something about it”

“Please do not demolish this beautiful building, we have lost too many already”

“Far too iconic a building to allow it to merely go to waste. A public function must be found for it”

“If this gets knocked down it will be a disgrace. This is a big part of Wellingborough and it’s history, save our Drill Hall now”

“This is a beautiful building and a real part of the town’s dwindling history”

“It’s criminal to see our town being demolished. Let’s keep our heritage, not swap it for a photo in our museum”

Hall history

The Drill Hall was built from local ironstone in the 1870s and used as a private house.

It then became home for the minister of the United Reformed Church.

During the First World War, it was used as a nursing home before being a training base for the Territorial Army.

It was acquired by Wellingborough Council in 2004.

The online petition states: “We hereby ask that Wellingborough Council ensures the safe keeping of the Drill Hall and that it remains part of any future development of the site.”