Historic Melton building nominated for special honour

Historian Derek Simmonds at Melton's Drill Hall, which has been shortlisted for a  Leicestershire County Council Green Plaque after he nominated it EMN-170627-131145001
Historian Derek Simmonds at Melton's Drill Hall, which has been shortlisted for a Leicestershire County Council Green Plaque after he nominated it EMN-170627-131145001

A Melton building with a rich history dating back to the First World War and which retains a close connection with young people in the town has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

The Drill Hall, off Asfordby Road, is in line for a Green Plaque, awarded by Leicestershire County Council to people and places which have made a significant contribution to the heritage of the county.

Built in 1914 at the start of the Great War, the building was from where Melton’s troops rode or marched off to fight in France.

It was the headquarters for the A Squadron Leicestershire Yeomanry, who bravely fought and held the line at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge. Defeat there would have allowed the Germans to enter Ypres and gain clear access to the key Channel ports.

These troops came from Melton, Rearsby, Harby and Rutland and after four hours of incessant bombardment and a further seven fighting off infantry assaults only 50 were accounted for.

In June 1915, a draft of 206 troops paraded at the Drill Hall to replace the severe losses in that battle.

The hall was also HQ for C Company 1/5th Leicestershire Territorials, which was re-lettered as B Company in France, who took part in a fierce skirmish at Hohenzollern Redoubt in October 1915.

Many of the casualties came back to Melton to be treated at the war hospital at Wicklow Lodge.

Local war historian Derek Simmonds nominated the hall for the special honour.

He said it would be a tribute to the town’s fallen and other service personnel: “The Green Plaque Award would not only represent all of these boys but also everyone that came after them, not only in World War One but also in World War Two and subsequent events around the world. They will be remembered.

“The Drill Hall is still serving the young people 117 years later and continues to convey a message of pride, duty and commitment, with the Army Cadet Force and an ATC Squadron.”

Today it is the headquarters for the 1279 Squadron (Melton Mowbray) Air Cadets and the town’s army cadets.

The Drill Hall is one of 12 shortlisted nominees with a public vote deciding which six will be awarded plaques. Go online to vote before the July 31 deadline at: www.leicestershire.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/history-and-heritage/green-plaque-awards-scheme to cast your vote.