This week’s postcard is a magnificent image of the local army drill hall in Salford, built in the mid Victorian era in Cross Lane:
At the time this postcard was taken, the hall was home to the 3rd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers as can be seen by the title painted on the main gates:
The building trades’ journal ‘The Builder’ reported on the construction and layout of the drill hall in 1899:
Drill Hall, Salford. — The new drill hall and head-quarters of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, in Cross-lane, Salford, were opened by Colonel Lees Knowles, M.P., on the 8th inst. (8 December 1899). The building is constructed of Accrington red brick, relieved by white brick and stone dressings. The main entrance is in the centre of the frontage, and surmounted by a massive square tower with embattled copings. At the extreme left of the frontage is a circular turret. The ground floor contains the adjutant’s, clerks’, and examination rooms to the left of the main entrance, and to the right are the men’s quarters, consisting of two rooms with refreshment bars. On the first floor are the officers’ and sergeants’ quarters, the former being approached by a staircase. The rooms comprise billiard, smoke, and reading rooms. Behind the headquarters is the drill hall, measuring 154 ft by 72 ft wide. A balcony, entered from both officers’ and men’s quarters, is placed at the end of the room. The floor is asphalted. Armoury and ammunition stores are attached. The building is lighted throughout by electricity and gas. In addition to the drill hall, there is a drill ground 188 ft. long by 90 ft. broad adjoining. The new buildings have cost about 7,000l. Messrs. John Eaton, Sons, & Cantrell, of Ashton under Lyne, are the architects, and Messrs. Edwin Marshall & Sons, also of Ashton, the contractors.
A curious and tragic incident occurred at the Barracks in 1916 to Private Jack Kelly:
Murdered by Private Walter Taylor at the Cross Lane Barracks, Salford. The first witness at the inquest into his death was his sister – Margaret Kelly, 38 Armitage Street, Patricroft. She stated that her deceased brother was a 27 year old Iron Worker who enlisted seven years ago in the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. He had seen actice service at the Dardenelles and had come home last January as a time-expired man and had then left the Army. He went back to his old trade, but after only one month, he re-enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. He was, she said, in good health when she last saw him when he left her home on the 26th April stating that he would be back for dinner at 12.45. He was going to the Hippodrome Theatre that night and had booked seats. The Judge then asked her if her brother was in possession of any money, to which she replied that he was as she had asked him for some money before he left and she saw them when he opened his purse. She stated that he owned a knife that was quite new as it was given to him with his uniform on the morning he re-enlisted.
She said that he had mentioned the name, Walter Taylor to her and said that he was a sailor, he was a fine man, but very quiet. She had identified her brothers body at the Silk Street, Mortuary.
Sergeant Roger Roberts giving evidence stated that the prisoner had been reported as being absent from parade and that Captain Cartwright had ordered that he be put into the guardroom until he had chance to deal with him. The prisoner was not then under arrest and Private John Kelly had been detailed to see that he did not leave the Barracks. He stated that when he was returning from his own dinner at 14.15 hrs, he had met the prisoner casually walking along Cross Street with his hands behind his back. He asked why he was out of the Barracks and was told the the man guarding him had let him out for some fresh air.
Together with a Corporal Cooper, he then went to the guardroom at 14.45 hrs and found Private Kelly’s body – his throat had been cut and he was lying on his back in a pool of blood around his shoulders. He was asked if the prisoner had recently received any pay, to which he replied – yes, 6/- .
The Post Mortem revealed that Private Kelly’s throat had been cut from ear to ear, inflicted with six separate strokes of a knife, so deep that it had gone through to his vertebrae and had cut through all his blood vessels.
The Jury’s verdict was “Wilfull Murder” and Walter Taylor was committed for trial. However the doctors at Strangeways Prison where he was held decided that he was insane and he was detained at”His Majesty’s Pleasure”