Monday, 15 December 2014

Cross Lane Drill Hall, Salford

See also Salford Infantry Barracks ; Salford Militia Barracks

Cross Lane 'Barracks'

"Drill Hall, Salford.  -- The new drill hall and head-quarters of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, in Cross-lane, Salford, were opened by Colonel Lees Knowles, M.P., on the 8th inst. (8 December 1899). The building is constructed of Accrington red brick, relieved by white brick and stone dressings. The main entrance is in the centre of the frontage, and surmounted by a massive square tower with embattled copings.  At the extreme left of the frontage is a circular turret. The ground floor contains the adjutant's, clerks', and examination rooms to the left of the main entrance, and to the right are the men's quarters, consisting of two rooms with refreshment bars.  On the first floor are the officers' and sergeants' quarters, the former being approached by a staircase. The rooms comprise billiard, smoke, and reading rooms.  Behind the headquarters is the drill hall,  measuring 154 ft by 72 ft wide.  A balcony, entered from both officers' and men's quarters, is placed at the end of the room. The floor is asphalted. Armoury and ammunition stores are attached.  The building is lighted throughout by electricity and gas. In addition to the drill hall, there is a drill ground 188 ft. long by 90 ft. broad adjoining.  The new buildings have cost about 7,000l.  Messrs. John Eaton, Sons, & Cantrell, of Ashton under Lyne, are the architects, and Messrs. Edwin Marshall & Sons, also of Ashton, the contractors."  Source: The Builder, Vol. 77 (Dec. 30, 1899)

Cross Lane circa 1910 showing the Drill Hall

Map of Cross Lane  (1920)
showing location of Drill Hall
Source: Rylands Library
Cross Lane Drill Hall was associated with the Lancashire Fusiliers.  On 5 March 1860, the 56th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers was raised in Salford. In 1881, following the Childer's Reforms, the 56th became the 17th Lancashire, and joined the Manchester Regiment as one of its Volunteer Battalions. During 1886, the 17th was transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers as the 3rd Volunteer Battalion.

Source: Tracing the Rifle Volunteers (2010)
click on image to enlarge

Forage cap of an officer of the 56th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers
with Salford's coat of arms.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the 1/7th and 1/8 Battalions (Lancashire Fusiliers), both of the Territorial Force, having been raised in Salford, were deployed to Gallipoli (via Egypt). It was during the Gallipoli Campaign that the Lancashire Fusiliers earned 'six VCs before breakfast'.


The ancient Romans practiced a custom called damnatio memoriae, which was designed to erase someone from history. This was done by removing all traces of the individual from the public record.  It might be said that the planners of the 1960s and 70s had this intent, not for a person, but for a road, and that road is Cross Lane.  This once vibrant and bustling thoroughfare has been transformed into an unremarkable and soulless dead-end street. Nothing was spared by the city’s wrecking crews, except for two pubs, The Paddock and The Corporation, both of which are now closed.   One of the buildings lost during Salford's spree of damnatio memoriae was the 'Cross Lane Barracks'.  Once demolished, it slipped into history along with the proud name of the Lancashire Fusiliers, which also became a thing of the past in 1968.

Looking up Cross Lane from the railway bridge. The Carlton Cinema
is on the right, the crenellations of the Drill Hall can been seen on the left
behind the Falcon pub.

Looking up Cross Lane from the railway bridge. The Drill Hallis on the left.

       source (right): Google

Who would want to demolish the Drill Hall (left), yet preserve the remnants of what was once The Corporation pub (right) ? 

If the Cross Lane Drill Hall had been located in a city with a more sensitive approach to its patrimony, like Lincoln, it might still be there !

Of Interest

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