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The Drill Hall, Bury. IP: 22.214.171.124 Posted on July 22, 2022 at 19:11:33 by G Pycroft
From the Manchester Evening News.
Council bosses are lobbying the Ministry of Defence for £2m to save an historic Army drill hall that was once a castle. Castle Armoury in Bury town centre - also known as the drill hall - was built on the remains of the former Bury Castle in 1868 and is Grade-II-listed.
As reported in the Manchester Evening News , the armoury was designed as the headquarters of the 8th Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps. Soldiers formed up there before being sent to the Western Front during the First World War, many never to return.
Today it is home to W Company 5th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 207 Field Hospital Royal Army Medical Corp and The Lancashire Royal Regiment of Fusiliers volunteer band, as well as a base for Army and RAF cadets and community groups.
Maintained by the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations, the RFCA, which is an arm of the Ministry of Defence, the building has now closed on safety grounds.
A cross-party motion to campaign for its survival was passed by Bury Council at a meeting on Wednesday evening. The council said the armoury was 'an important part of the current identity history of Bury' and was also home for a community karate group and an armed forces veterans' breakfast club.
But, said the motion, the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations 'have not been able to obtain the funds needed'. "The building is owned by the Bury Castle Armoury Trust and is leased to NW RFCA through a formal agreement,".
"Under the terms of the lease NW RFCA and in turn the Ministry of Defence assume full responsibility for repairs and maintenance. The building is currently assessed as needing over £2m spending on it for urgent repairs and several million more to fully modernise it. The RFCA have not been able to obtain the funds needed.
"There is an overwhelming desire to re-open Castle Armoury to all those that use it and a meeting was held last week for all the organisations that use it."
The council said an open letter would be written 'urging the Ministry of Defence to provide the necessary funds to make it safe again and to modernise it'. Further meetings to discuss possible external funding will also be held.
Councillor Richard Gold, cabinet member for communities, said: "The council has unanimously agreed to do everything it can to save the drill hall. We urge the Ministry of Defence to provide the necessary funds to repair it and restore it to full use. We’re also looking at what external funding is available and working with all parties to save this important asset for the local community."
Drill Halls were a common sight in every town and city, said Historic England. They were usually purpose-built meeting places where Britain's volunteer forces met to practice military drill and also served as administrative centres and armouries for the units.
The Fusiliers, known for their red and white hackle, were to gain world-wide renown in the First World War after winning 'six Victoria Crosses before breakfast' at Gallipoli in 1915.
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