THE DRILL HALL
Kingsway Hall in Forest Town is still known to many local people by its original name of the Drill Hall. It was on Saturday May 15th 1909 that the Drill Hall was officially opened. The occasion was one of pomp and splendour with the Mansfield and Cresswell Boys Brigade lining the route. The Attorney General on National Defence, Sir William Robson performed the opening ceremony and many colliery officials and civic dignitaries were also there. The Mansfield Colliery Band played musical entertainment, and a group of four singers who included Morgan Kingston, sang popular music of the day.
Throughout the first half of the 20th Century the Drill Hall was where the Mansfield Colliery Boys and Girls Brigades met for their various activities. Other groups are also believed to have used the hall. Additionally it was used for many community events, such as concerts, dances, bazaars, and plays by the local drama group or school.
At some time in the 1940’s it was used to supply dinners to children from Forest Town School, dinners were served in two upstairs rooms. In the 1960’s it was used as a temporary club while the Old Mansfield Welfare was being demolished and the new one built.
KINGSWAY HALL – Just when the Drill Hall became Kingsway Hall is also unknown.
Renovations – At a date unknown the building fell into disrepair and was eventually saved by enthusiastic people and grants. First the outside was completely renovated, and then grants were obtained to restore the inside.
Official Opening – The refurbished building was officially opened on 11th October 1997.
Since then the building has been used for elderly peoples groups, after school clubs, youth activities, educational facilities, school plays, concerts, private functions. It is also the venue for church services for Calvary Chapel.
While the name of the building may have changed, and there have been some alterations, it still bears traces of its early history. The emblem of the Bolsover Colliery Company can be seen high in the wall over the main entrance, and inside, in an upstairs room the badge of the Boys Brigade is over a wonderful old fireplace. As this building with such a wide variety of activities celebrates 100 years of history, and for the first time was used as the local Polling Station it will generate a whole flood-bank of memories, we look forward to hearing some of them.