7 May 2015
This morning I have been throwing “high fives” at the air and jumping around the kitchen!! As always, whether I’m heading off to work or not, I made time to start up my computer and check my emails and Caroline Finlay from the Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Centre had replied to my email of 1 May 2015 requesting information about the Merrylands Drill Hall, the building that my dad had gone to to enlist on 15 Jan 1942. Caroline had given me wonderful links which have proved invaluable to finding the history of the building.
Then around lunch time The Granville Historical Society sent through a picture of the building – how lucky can you get! I was overjoyed to be able to put a “face” to the building that was pivotal to my dads Army career.
The Drill Hall had quite a long regimental and community career and was proposed for building in June of 1914. The following article appeared in the Evening News on Monday 22 June 1914. The article describes the dimensions of the building and also that the building was being constructed to enable long term use by the community by adding a stage and dressing room.
Merrylands Drill Hall was officially opened on Saturday 8 August 1914 by Colonel Luscombe as reported in the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, page 5 . The opening of the build was in fact quite a grand event, being celebrated by raising of the flag and singing of the anthem, a football match played between Cadets of the Granville first eleven and Merrylands first eleven, official military speeches, a concert and finally a ball. The ball attracted some 500 people which left very little room for actual dancing. The article below gives a full description of the opening of the building.
During the intervening years from 1914 to 1942 the hall served it’s military purpose, both during conflict and in peace time. The hall played a major role in the social lives of many, many people. In January of 1939 there appears numerous articles in both “The Biz” and “The Cumberland Argus ” for volunteers for enlistment, and directed them to the Merrylands Drill Hall on Woodville Road on Monday evenings between 8.00 and 10.00 pm, where they would find Militia Officers ready and willing to help them. Late in February of 1939 there was an open air recruitment campaign held and once again men were advised to join up through the Drill Hall. There are no newspaper reports relating to recruitment at the drill hall during 1942, however it was to this by now quite old 60 foot by 40 foot weatherboard and tin structure that Ronald Norman Di Salvia presented to in January of 1942.
The building was finally pulled down during the 1990’s to make way for the current McDonalds outlet.
Parramatta Heritage Centre – Caroline Finlay
Granville Historical Society