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Drill Hall, Sarum Hill, Basingstoke

Drill Hall, Sarum Hill, Basingstoke

This building at the top of Sarum Hill, Basingstoke, was erected in July 1883 by Colonel John May of May’s Brewery as a Drill Hall for K Company, 1st Hants Rifle Volunteers. It was the largest hall in town, 100 ft deep by 50 ft wide at the front, with a capacity of 250 dancing couples. In 1884 Colonel May also built the Masonic Hall next door, which had communicating doors to the Drill Hall.

Colonel May allowed the hall to be used for many public meetings, entertainments and dinners and for events like a grand “Reformation Times bazaar” under the auspices of London Street Congregational Church in 1903.

In 1925 the theatrical entrepreneur Edwin George Casey opened the hall as the Pavilion dance hall and in 1937 he converted it to become the Plaza Theatre (a cinema).

When this closed in 1955 it was taken over as the Co-operative Furnishing Store and later the Masonic Hall was incorporated into the store for hardware, both continuing in use until 1984.

Both buildings were pulled down when there were plans to make a roundabout, which never happened. The new building there is now the offices of Sovereign Kingfisher, who retained the foundation stone of the Masonic Hall in a garden feature.

Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.