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Territorial Army Centre, Easton - Portland

VOLUNTEER DRILL HALL

The Volunteer Drill Hall, Easton Lane, was erected in 1868. Previous to 1868 one part of the local corps drilled at the Clifton Hotel, the Grove, and the other part at the old school-room, Straits, now the: Reading-room. The Drill Hall was considerably enlarged and improved in 1900. It, now consists of a large and spacious drill hall, the latest additions being an armoury, reading-room, recreation room, and other admirable accommodation for the service of the Corps. The facade to Easton Lane is a very handsome elevation in dressed Portland stone, with castellated towers, &c. The structure is one of the most picturesque and attractive on the Island. Attached to the Drill Hall on the south side is an Instructor's residence.*

THE PORTLAND VOLUNTEERS

1ST DORSET ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY (VOLUNTEERS)

No. 8 Company Headquarters, The Drill Hall, Easton Lane, Portland. Officer Commanding, Captain Richard Lano. The Portland Volunteer Artillery Corps was established in 1860 mainly through the efforts of Captain Browne, who, previous to his association with the well-known Steward's firm of quarry owners, held a commission in the Army. For some time previously there had been a Volunteer Corps in connection with the Portland Breakwater Works, but unfortunately it did not last when the works approached completion and so many men left the place. The Portland Corps has had a long and honourable career. The Island has always taken it strong patriotic interest in the Volunteer movement. The 4th Dorset Artillery Volunteers were originally attached to the Portsmouth Division. A little while after they were turned ever to the Devonshire Brigade, only to be sent back again to the Portsmouth Brigade. Eventually, the Dorset Artillery Volunteers were made a separate brigade with headquarters at Weymouth. The first officers of the Portland Corps were Captain Browne, Lieut. Freeman, and Lieut. Eliot. The first sergeant was Charlie White, and the first sergeant-major was Benjamin Collins. The old familiar name of the Portland Volunteers, and one which they thoroughly merited, was " The Dorset Stalwarts No 4. " The first camp was held at Woodbury Hill, Devon. There are still about a dozen of the original members of the old company alive - Regimental Quarter-Master Sergt. W. J. Pearce, who retired in November 1900, having served from November 10th 1860, and earned the long service medal, Messrs E. John Pearce, W. Stone, J. A. Stone, John Scriven and others.

At one time the Volunteer force was so strong in Portland that the Island was the proud possessor of its own Volunteer Artillery Brigade of three full companies. Mr W. J. Pearce possesses an interesting memento in the shape of a photograph of the 2nd (Portland) Brigade of the Dorset Artillery Volunteers in Camp at Southsea on July 29, 1893. The Brigade was then nearly 400 strong, and was under the command of Major McLean. On that notable occasion the Brigade was inspected by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught on the Southsea Common. Among the well-known officers who were associated with the Portland Volunteer Artillery Corps were Major (afterwards Colonel) McLean, Lieut.-Col. Eliot (who succeeded Capt. Browne in the. command of the corps), Major Andrews, Major G. P. Symes (now Lieut.-Col. Symes in command of the 1st Dorset R. G. A. Vols.), Major J. H. Bowen, and Major Crickmay. Captain Richard Lano, the present popular officer commanding the Corps, volunteered for service in the. South African War. In recent years the strength of the Portland Artillery Volunteers dropped to two companies. It remained at that level for some time, but lately, owing principally to the stringency of the new Volunteer regulations, it has fallen to only one company, with a strength of over 100 members. It is interesting to note that in 1804 there was at company of " Portland Volunteers," commanded by John Penn, as Chaplain, with Henry Lowman as Lieutenant. *

1860. Portland Artillery Volunteers enrolled.*

1869. Volunteer Drill Hall erected.*

1893. Portland at this time possessed a Volunteer Artillery Brigade of three full companies.*

1900. Volunteer Drill Hall enlarged.*

* Portland Year Book for 1905

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Paul Benyon