Now used for Gymnastics, the Bruce Street Hall was built as a Drill Hall in 1887 and played an important role in Dunfermline’s safety until after the second World War when it stopped being used by military groups.
There were over 344 drill halls throughout Scotland, built or repurposed from 1860s until 1920s to recruit, train and host regular drills by units of volunteers in the art of weaponry and how to protect their town and nation.
Dunfermline’s Drill Hall was based on designs by Andrew Scobie. It contained an armoury and recreational rooms, but the important part was the hall where the drills would take place. The hall itself was stated in the press as being 110ft long x 66ft wide x 38ft in height (or 33.5m x 20m x 11.5m in metric measurements).
Funds to build drill halls were raised from local landowners, subscriptions from volunteer units, local donations or, as in Dunfermline, a mixture of all three. The cost was put at £2,000. We know there was strong community support for one of the units using it, the 1st Fifeshire Rifle Volunteers. In 1859 they charged Volunteers £2 in subscriptions and received £300 from local philanthropist James Kerr.
Fundraising was done through private subscriptions and £1,415 was raised from a Military Bazaar in October 1885. There was also a raffle where the prize was a … ‘cottage in Limekilns complete with garden’. The “Marine Villa” included views of the newly constructed Forth Bridge and a local paper promised the winner a 40,000% return in value for their sixpence entry ticket. It’s quite a prize and we’ve not yet been able to discover the winner. Do you know who it might have been?
The Drill Hall was gutted by fire in 1975 and reopened in 1988 as a sports facility.