HISTORY




Drill Hall, Debdon Gardens, Heaton

   An old British drill hall located in Debdon Gardens, Heaton, was the site of A Battery Headquarters during the 225th's stay in Newcastle. Though we're not sure that the fencing depicted dates to 1944, at least one Skylighter billeted in the Heaton area recalls that "there were a lot of fences around there. I remember GIs always pushing their English dates against the fences all the time."

   According to John Stelling, who runs the Military Vehicle Museum in Newcastle, "I served with the ... Tyne Electrical Engineers ... one of the first searchlight TA (Territorial Army) units formed, and still proudly carry the name, although we are now only one squadron part of a Scottish regiment tasked with airfield support. I served in the late 60s and our drill hall was, and still is, in Debdon Gardens — your old HQ. (I attend the association meeting there each month.) The main building has been modernised, but you would still recognise it. The buildings at the back were demolished and now house a new MT building, although the block of garages are still used. The unit still held some 90-cm lights for display (and once in 1982 used them to make "Monty's moonlight" on exercise in Germany to light a river crossing). When they were told to get rid of the lights, they were given to our museum and we still light one up for special occasions. I also live about one mile from the AA site at Hebburn, which was next to what was a coke production plant."


DEBDON LOCATOR MAP (82 K)

The gray disk shows the area depicted in the photos below. Map courtesy multimap.com.

DEBDON GARDENS FROM THE AIR (60 K)

Same location as above map viewed from the air. (Aerial imagery is Cities Revealed data supplied by The GeoInformation Group.)

DEBDON LOCATOR MAP (45 K)

Street-level map of Debdon Gardens area. Map courtesy multimap.com.

PHOTO 1 (19 K)

The drill hall (all photos courtesy Steve Ellwood, who maintains a Newcastle photo archive at ClubPhoto.com).Click on the image to view a larger version.

PHOTO 2 (15 K)

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PHOTO 3 (10 K)

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PHOTO 4 (17 K)

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PHOTO 5 (19 K)

Inspection of the photo reveals that the building once had a flat roof (compare the different shades of the upper and lower brickwork). Click on the image to view a larger version.

PHOTO 6 (10 K)

The sign shows the new tenants: the Territorial Army. Click on the image to view a larger version.

PHOTO 6 (20 K)

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