Get involved in saving Sidmouth Drill Hall ..... this is a relaunch!
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Newsletter mid Jan 2017

Dear Friends,
I would like to thank those of you who have contacted me to offer encouragement and support, it is good to know that people are still interested in saving the Drill Hall for future generations to use and enjoy.

I am sorry that I have not been able to answer your detailed questions about why the original campaign, as embodied by Sidmouth Drill Hall Hub, has stopped or where the money that people donated in the belief that it would used for saving the Drill Hall went. SDHH set up a CIC registered with Companies House and has produced accounts but you will have to contact them with your queries if you wish to know more.

It seems hardly possible that we are approaching the middle of January already but unfortunately it is true. I have been working hard on setting up a linked group of websites under the Historic Sidmouth name in an attempt to attract those who are interested in Sidmouth history and thus introduce them to the idea that we should prevent the Drill Hall from being destroyed. After all, the building has been a feature of the east end of the Esplanade for 121 years. Part of this is internet grouping is the new site.

Of course, we can no longer consider the Drill Hall in isolation as the whole of Port Royal is scheduled for redevelopment. The block concerned is known as ED03 in the East Devon Local Plan which was approved last year, the map is shown here. If we are to save the Drill Hall we have to show its place within this proposed revamping. In the allocation for mixed use ‘community use’ is mentioned, so we might try to build on that; although I suspect it refers to a hope of continuing to store the lifeboat somehow.

The added difficulties of showing how it will fit within a new scheme are to some extent off-set by the current work on a Neighbourhood Plan which is now entering its second year, and also by the Reference Group (mentioned in the Scoping Exercise documents ) which is supposed to form part of the team looking at the Port Royal project.

The Neighbourhood Plan (Home here) was expected to take 18-24 months to complete so should now be past its halfway mark; read their document library.

If we can persuade people on these groups that the Drill Hall is important we will have strong backing for our case; as ever it requires that people let them know that they care about saving the Hall. Please consider contacting them. You can do so directly to Deidre Hounsom ,who is the Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan group, at .

If you know people who are interested in the Port Royal redevelopment but not in the Drill Hall then please encourage them to subscribe to these newsletters too as I will be including Port Royal updates. Or feel free to forward these newsletters.

Along with producing the websites I have also been trying to keep track of what is happening in the local council meetings. There are no updates on the STC Port Royal page and nothing in the STC Minutes or on the agenda for the meeting on the 9th Jan.

The Town Clerk is very good at answering my questions, last month to let me know that the tenders for the work of running the Scoping Exercise were due in around the 8th or 9th of Dec, and this week to let me know that all the Sidmouth Town and East Devon District Councillors will come together soon to make an appointment. He expects that as soon as this has happened things will start to move very rapidly.

I have an urgent need for people to take these tasks from me. To keep a check on Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council agendas and minutes so that important information is not missed is essential.

If there were 4 volunteers it would only take each of them approximately 30 minutes a month to cover the work and report back to me if necessary. If you feel you could do this then please contact me at  Any offers to take over intermittent questioning of the Town Clerk would be gratefully received too. I would find it ideal if I could concentrate on the websites and related design work while others dealt with these essential tasks.

Part of the design work I am trying to get done is the production of 3D views of what the Drill Hall could look like with minimal expense. The images by Alex Vick for SDHH a couple of years ago were, I understand, intended to spark people’s imaginations rather than provide a blueprint. As such it would be easy to dismiss the idea on grounds of impracticability and cost, and I believe many people have done so. The main quarrels with it seem to be that it is not in keeping with the conservation area and that all the glass would be smashed in the first storm. I need to produce designs which address these concerns.

I have a front view which shows how simple changes to the windows and doors and the addition of some sort of simple ornament to the top of the pillars would make a huge difference without much cost. I now need to work this up into full 3D views. Possible front elevation.

I have to thank Consuelo for her admin help with the distribution of the last newsletter and for her agreement to produce a musical theme for this campaign (hear her here Consu ).

I would like to be able to produce a short film or presentation of some sort showing the life of the Drill Hall and backed with her music. We could then send this video to any historical or funding groups who we think might be interested, and of course present it to the Councils too. If there is anyone with video/presentation experience who would like to work on this I would be very grateful. I can supply exterior images from about 1903 but am struggling to find interior ones, can anyone help?

As you can see, the help I need does not require you to be resident in Sidmouth, or if resident does not require you to leave your home if you don’t want to! There is much that can be achieved via the Internet.

I am very aware that our visitors to Sidmouth are a huge part of the life of the town and we need to include them too when looking to the future. I fear that if we don’t all work together the east end of Sidmouth will become a modern area without visible links to the past. I am not against progress or change, I am against throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Speak to you all soon, Mary

 © 2017 Mary Walden-Till, All rights reserved.

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Historic Sidmouth · The Pines · Belper, Derbyshire DE56 0SB · United Kingdom

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