History of the Drill Hall

Our History

The Drill Hall was completed by 1902 as part of the first phase of developing the Royal Naval Barracks in Chatham. It was constructed to provide an indoor space for Navy personnel to exercise and train during inclement weather. Often referred to as the Drill Shed, it has also been used as an overflow barracks, exhibition centre, naval store and building materials warehouse.

On Monday 3rd September 1917 the Drill Hall was being used as an overflow dormitory for around 900 naval ratings when, at about 11.00pm, it suffered two hits from bombs dropped by German Gotha aeroplanes. One of the first of the First World War ‘moonlight raids’, it resulted in the loss of some 130 lives.

The Drill Hall Library was opened by the Rt Hon David Miliband MP on Monday 13th February 2006.

A film about the bombing of the Drill Shed in 1917 and the event held to commemorate it, along with a film of the health care professionals of 1917 are available on You Tube using the following links.

Drill Shed from 1907
Fig 1: "Drill Shed", View Album R.N. Barracks, Chatham, Charlesworth & Morehen Photographers, Old Brompton, Chatham c1905, p. 25.