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Drill HallThe historic Drill Hall in Joubert Park, which was almost destroyed by fire in April 2002, has been given a new lease on life after a R10-million refurbishment led by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and funded by the City of Johannesburg.

The 100-year-old Drill Hall building has been developed as "a heritage asset and public open space that forms part of the historical and cultural tourism trail of the inner city".

In its new life, the Drill Hall accommodates:

  • the Rand Light Infantry in the northern wing;
  • the Johannesburg Community Chest, which provides lifeskills training for disadvantaged people in the inner city;
  • the Joubert Park Project, a collective of creative artists concerned with the promotion of the arts and cultural development in the inner city; and
  • the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society in the southern wing. The society provides skills to girls at risk - street children, homeless girls and sex workers - through special programmes intended to develop their entrepreneurial spirit. A hair salon, sewing machines and amenities for cooking lessons are under development.

Where is it?

The Drill Hall is on the eastern side of the Johannesburg's CBD, near Joubert Park. It is on the corner of Plein and Twist streets. Click here for a map

Led by architect Michael Hart, the development has been driven by the desire to honour the layers of history of the site. The Drill Hall has had a chequered past. Built in 1904, it was used as a military barracks that supplied regiments throughout the Anglo Boer War. It was the site of the mobilisation of volunteers from the Transvaal who went to the aid of the Natal colonial troops in quelling the Bambatha Rebellion of 1906 and housed regiments responsible for suppressing the miners' strikes of 1913, 1914 and 1922. Troops gathered at the hall on their way to fight in the first and second world wars.

Perhaps more famously, it was the site of the initial stages of the Treason Trial in the late 1950s, in which former president Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu were among the 156 accused. (The trial was moved to Pretoria for security reasons.) It was also a popular dance venue from the 1930s to the late 1970s.

From the mid-1990s, it became home to several hundred squatters until a fire gutted the building in 2002.