History of Ware Drill Hall
Mr. Robert Hanbury endowed the funding for the Mission Hall in Amwell End. In March 1888 Amwell End became part of Ware. There were eleven courtyards with unsanitary slum cottages housing about 700 people. As part of Christ Church’s missionary work, the vicar from 1880 to 1914 was Revd Alfred Oates, a Mission Hall and Working Men’s Room was built next to what is now Mantra/Billie Jeans (previously Beckets).
It was his Grandson Edmund S Hanbury (his own son Robert having died in 1867) who agreed with Revd Oates and Dr A J Boyd, Officer Commanding of the local Volunteers, to have the Drill Hall built on the site of Dickenson’s Yard for use by the whole community. The demolition of 24 slum cottages provided the space as they were re- housed in Coronation Road.
News of the plans was published in The Herts. Guardian with details and final price of £5,250 on 6th May 1899. The Boer War started in October 1899, which prevented a special opening of the Drill Hall as planned.
WARE DRILL HALL REFURBISHMENT
After agreeing an operational lease as part of the original business plan the toilet and kitchen facilities were modernised in the first two phases of redevelopment between 2003 and 2005. Following negotiations between Ware Drill Hall Association and East Herts Council for a 25-year lease, accompanied by a £200,000 grant package, major improvement work was carried out in the spring of 2012, particularly to the main hall and both inside and outside the building. The key elements of the contract included the following:
- Rooflight replacement in main hall with Velux units
- Motorised blinds system (for blacking-out main hall when necessary)
- Thermostatic control for main hall heating system
- Improved ventilation and cooling equipment
- Theatrical and ambient lighting system
- Redecoration of Main Hall and Hanbury Room
- Additional doorway between Main Hall and Hanbury Room
- Enlargement of usable floor space in Hanbury Room
- Repair and redecoration of frontage
- Installation of illuminated noticeboards and signage
- Replacement of guttering and downpipes
- Clearance and resurfacing of service yard
For further details about the Association’s plans, or to find out about hiring the facilities please contact the Hall Administrator, Catherine Ward (see Hire & Contact section).