Gladesville Drill Hall | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Gladesville Drill Hall

Item details

Name of item: Gladesville Drill Hall
Other name/s: Drill Hall, Army Reserve Depot
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Defence
Category: Drill Hall
Location: Lat: -33.8227649267 Long: 151.1255532750
Primary address: 144 Ryde Road, Gladesville, NSW 2111
Local govt. area: Ryde
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP1050214
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
144 Ryde RoadGladesvilleRyde  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Strata Plan No. 69924Private 

Statement of significance:

The former Drill Hall is significant because it is one of the few (if any) pre-Federation, i.e. Colonial, drill hall establishments remnant in Sydney. The Drill Hall (and its site) are representative of the continuous evolution of Citizen's Militia from Colonial Volunteer and Militia Orderly Rooms to early 20th century drill halls, to late 20th century Army Reserve training depots, and latterly to multi-user depots. The Drill Hall site has historical associations with the former Eltham Estate and the creation of the adjacent Monash Park. The site and this area of Gladesville have clear association with the famous WW1 soldiers, Sir John Monash and Brigadier Sydney Herring. The former drill hall building is representative of the work of NSW Government Architects Branch at the turn of the (20th) century, and is a richly detailed and architecturally satisfying example of that Branch's architectural style. The former drill hall is one of only three such buildings with remain extant. The Drill Hackle and Army Reserve Training Depot has had considerable social connection with the Ryde/Gladesville/Hunters Hill communities, and thus has 'social value' to those communities. The former Drill Hall, as a relatively rare example of a pre WW1 civilian training hall thus, providing an understanding of an aspect of the evolution of the Civil Militia movement in New South Wales (Freeman 2000: 33-34)
Date significance updated: 26 Jun 07
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: NSW Government Architects Office
Builder/Maker: Mr Neely of Chatswood
Construction years: 1900-1900
Physical description: The Gladesville Army Reserve Drill Hall is a sophisticated timber building with quality detailing that supports the overall design of the building. The building is rectangular is plan with a corrugated iron sheet gable roof and a skillion extension to the west. The details in this timber building are of a fine quality with timber double hung, multi-paned sash windows and higlights and finely moulded and detailed architraves to the windows and main entrance door. The exterior is lined with beaded boarding and the base of the main building is filled in with a masonry wall. The gable ends of the main hall have highlist windows with louvres above to the apex. The interior of the hall was originally a double storey open space. The interior structure is based on a braced post and beam wall structure which carries a classic timber post truss. There are five internal king post trusses. The floors are generally 100 by 25 mm tongue and groove hardwood boards.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Archaeological potenital is high.
Date condition updated:24 Oct 08
Current use: Residence
Former use: Drill Hall


Historical notes: The Ryde area was highly suitable for farming and orchards, and early grants to marines were given to encourage agriculture. In 1792 land in the area was granted to 8 marines; two of the grants were in the modern area of Ryde. Isaac Archer and John Colethread each received 80 acres of land on the site of the present Ryde-Parramatta Golf Links, now in West Ryde. Later in 1792, in the Eastern Farms area, 12 grants, most of them about 30 acres, were made to convicts. Much later these farms were bought by John Macarthur, Gregory Blaxland and the Reverend Samuel Marsden. The district remained an important orchard area throughout the 19th century. (Pollen, 1996)

The area which was later to become the Gladesville Drill Hall site and the adjacent Monash Park was, in the late 19th century, used for civil militia purposes. In the 1870s to 1890s the site was under tentage, with a parade ground and a small bore miniature rifle range adjacent.

The parcel of land on which this building was erected was originally part of the Field of Mars Common, but was withheld from sale when the Common began to be subdivided in August 1885.

Around this time the first militia was formed in the district and called the Hunters Hill Reserves. By 1900 the company had become K Company, 1st Infantry Regiment and they had a drill shed of some sort on or near the corner of Convent Road (now Monash Road) and Gladesville Road (now Victoria Road). The Sands' Sydney Directories lists the "Headquarters K Company 1st Regiment" at this address from 1896.

The Cumberland Argus & Fruit Growers Advocate reported on 24 March 1900 that" construction of the new drill hall for K Company 1st Regiment, has been commenced at the corner of the Quarry Reserve, off the Ryde-road, Gladesville". The hall was to be sixty feet by thirty feet, built of wood with an iron roof, on a concrete foundation. It was to contain three offices, each ten feet by ten feet. The contractor was "Mr Neely of Chatswood, son of Mr Neely, of Gladesville, and the contract price was a little over £500. The work was to be completed in 10 weeks. On 5 May 1900 the Cumberland Argus & Fruit Growers Advocate reported the hall was due to be completed by mid-May and that it was "commodious, substantial and a well ventilated structure".

The new Drill Hall was officially opened on Friday 13 July 1900 with "a Grand Military Ball. The Cumberland Argus & Fruit Growers Advocate reported this event on 21 July 1900, declaring it be a function which ''far exceeded anything of the kind held in the district for many a long day". The Argus went on to say that "the fine commodious hall was packed with a gay and brilliant assemblage" and that refreshments were provided in a"commodious marquee just outside the hall".

The Drill Hall figured prominently in official ceremonies in Ryde on Saturday 23 February 1901. This was the day on which De Burgh's Bridge across the Lane Cove River at North Ryde was officially opened and the day on which the first sod of the Field of Mars Tramway was turned. It was, said the Cumberland Argus & Fruit Growers Advocate, "a red-letter day in the Ryde district". The Minister for Public Works, Mr E. W. O'Sullivan,first opened the bridge at North Ryde, then returned to Gladesville to turn the sod, after which the official party of between 120 and 130 people "sat down to a banquet in the Drill Hall, Gladesville" at which Alderman J. Redshaw, the Mayor of Ryde, presided. Ex¬Alderman Robert Campbell Swan, whose residence in Eltham Street Gladesville adjoined the Drill Hall, "had a string of flags conspicuously displayed" in honour of the occasion.

The official party which gathered at Gladesville to turn the first sod of the tramway was, said the Argus, the "largest seen in Gladesville for many a long day" and included a guard of honour, consisting of 42 members of K Company in review order, under Captain Tilney. The centre of attention was "a little green spot at the intersection of Convent [now Monash} and Ryde Roads, almost opposite the main entrance to the Drill Hall". The proposed tramway was to proceed along Convent, Higginbotham, Pidding, Badajoz and Bridge Road to Marsfield and thence to Epping. It never eventuated.

Ryde Council minutes of a meeting held on 13 July 1904 noted that a letter had been received from H. Hillier Col Sergt. F Company 1st Australian Infantry Regiment, asking Council to protest against the removal of the Headquarters ofF Company from Gladesville. The Mayor moved a motion that the request be complied with, and that the Federal representative be asked to assist. The Cumberland Argus & Fruit Growers Advocate of16 July 1904 reported that the same letter had been read to a meeting of the Gladesville Progress Association. The Argus reported that the letter claimed that the removal of the Headquarters of F Company from Gladesville to Sydney would be "detrimental to the interests of the district and would deprive the young men of it of necessary military training". The letter went on to explain that the company had been maintained by the district '10r upwards of 20 years; firstly as the Hunters Hill Reserves, and later as K Company, 1st Infantry Regiment, and since the reorganisation of the military forces £1903], as F Company, 1st Australian Regiment". The letter also explained that, at the present time, the membership of the Company was not up to strength, being 14 short of the establishment of 60, but that recruiting had been suspended for some time. The letter declared that the removal of the Company would "necessitate the demolition of the Drill Hall which was erected in 1901, at a cost of between £600 and £700" and the closing of the rifle range, "which offered facilities to civilians as well as the militia".

The minutes for 30 September 1904 recorded Council's receipt of a letter from Mr Dugald Thomson MP re the removal of the Headquarters of the F Company 1st Australian Regiment stating that it was not the intention of the Defence Department to remove the Headquarters.

Although the Commonwealth Government took over construction of Drill Halls following Federation in 1901 the Halls in NSW continued to be designed by the NSW Government Architect's Branch. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 30 August 1904 described the erection of a large drill hall at Victoria Barracks, Paddington, and the proposed erection of a new Volunteer Drill Hall at Leichhardt: '... The Commonwealth Government is erecting a drillhall at Victoria Barracks for the use of the purely volunteer regiments ... There has been no lavish expenditure incurred in connection with the building. It is plainly finished in every detail, yet the authorities will have the largest drill hall in the State, a building in which ample accommodation combined with strength are the leading features... '

In 1904, the volunteers had been reformed as F Company 1st Australian Regiment, and become co-located with the school cadets of St Joseph's College at the Drill Hall. An extract from the SJC Magazine of 1911 describes the arrangements for the college's cadet corps: '... As all know, the corps now belongs to the Commonwealth Military Forces. It forms part of the 19th Battalion, 5th North Sydney Brigade. The Training Area is 19A Hunter's Fill; Head Quarters, the Drill Hall, Gladesville. Our cadets form the "A" Company of the Battalion... The formation of the corps took place soon after the re-opening in January of this year. A company of 120 strong was formed of boys between 14 and 17 years, the training age for Senior Cadets. An over-age section was also formed, but through lack of encouragement it soon disbanded. At the beginning of the year the boys were submitted to a strict medical examination by Dr Lloyd, assisted by three of the military authorities.’

In 1911, a second report in the SJC Magazine reported less optimistically on the corps's fortunes: '... Early in the year we were in hopes of obtaining a fresh supply of equipment, but our hopes were groundless, for after June there were extremely few who possessed a full uniform. However, it doesn't need a khaki uniform to remind a true Cadet that he is on parade... Owing to the scarcity of officers, the shortage of equipment, and the necessity for calling in all rifles, the Government has decided to suspend all drill for the present, but we may hear of its revival in the near future. Nevertheless, the training the Cadets have received will stand them in good stead. '

By 1914, the company had been reformed as the 18th Battalion [18BTN] including a machine gun company. The Battalion was still co-located with the St Joseph's College Cadet Corps.

At or about the end of World War I, the Hall became the headquarters for the 19th Battalion [19BTN] who remained there until 1941, at which time the Hall and site was occupied by the 35th Battalion [35BTN] including a machine gun company. The 35th Battalion remained for ten years to be replaced in 1951 by the 2nd Field Engineers Regiment. This regiment stayed for nineteen years and was replaced in 1970 by the 2nd Division Provost Company. Seven years later they were replaced by the 4th Engineers Regiment, who remained there until the unit was relocated to the Dundas Depot in 1995.

By the late 1980s, it had become clearly apparent to the Army, and the new Army Headquarters 2nd Military District [including Gladesville], that many of their Army Reserve Depots, established in the early years of this century [and late in the last century], were inadequate to meet modem standards and in a number of cases were inappropriately located within the current demographic structure for metropolitan Sydney and Newcastle. Furthermore, the operational requirements of the modern day Army had changed leaving an under-utilisation of these valuable assets.

In August 1995 the Reserve Depot was vacated and the 4th Field Engineers Regiment was relocated to Dundas. (Peter Freeman and Megan Martin May 2000)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Training civilian militia-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the First (Great) World War-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir John Monash, soldier-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
Gladesville Drill Hall is one of only three surviving examples in New South Wales of the drill halls built by the colonial government prior to Federation and the only example in Sydney.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementFmr Army Reserve Training Depot Heritage Assessment, by Peter Freeman Associates CMP endorsed by Heritage Council 18 May 2000 for a period of five years, expires 18 May 2005. May 18 2000
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales do by this Order, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0078202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0078227 Nov 98 1659165

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management PlanPeter Freeman Pty Ltd2000Former Army Reserve Training Depot, Gladesville, Sydney
WrittenPollen, F. (Ed.) & Healy, G.1996Ryde (entry) in The Book of Sydney Suburbs

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5044707
File number: H98/00240

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