Wolverhampton's Locally Listed Buildings

Former Drill Hall

Mount Pleasant, Bilston

Listing: Locally listed in 2004. Built in 1901 as a Drill Hall for the 6th Staffordshire Regiment of the Territorial Army, it remained in use as such until 1936.  The coat of arms still decorates the two storey building, which is now a music venue.  Even thought the red facing bricks of the front and side elevation have been painted, the architectural merit of the building is still evident in the decorative features that exist.

Comment:  This must always have been a rather strange looking building, especially one used as a drill hall.  The foundation stone announces that it was laid by Sir Alfred Hickman, the donor of the site, 10th April 1901.  Hickman owned the steel works and other enterprises, was about as rich as Croesus but was also into philanthropy and public service.

Whilst it is not a good idea to paint what was not originally painted, this paint scheme does bring out the quirkiness and makes the building look like fun - which it is meant to, as it and the two buildings to the left of the photo are now all part of the same venue, where the live music is more important than the dancing and drinking.  The owners have spent something like half a million pounds on it - and its bigger than it looks as it can accommodate 700 people.  As an old drill hall it is an important element in a whole series of interesting buildings along Mount Pleasant that together provide an important reminder of the Victorian era of Bilston's past.

In 2006 the owners got, on appeal, planning permission to a building next to this into an hotel, mainly to accommodate people appearing at the club.  The appeal inspector referred to this as a "high quality conversion scheme" which would "preserve and enhance" the character and appearance of the town centre conservation area.  The city council had refused permission because the scheme involved the loss of internal features.

The brickwork has now been restored to its original finish, which greatly improves the look of the building.