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MEMORY LANE: Historian Stans remembers heyday of Grantham’s Old Barracks

The Old Barracks
The Old Barracks

Grantham historian Stan Matthews has written another fascinating book – this time detailing ‘A History of The Old Barracks’.

This latest self-produced publication adds to the four previous ‘Grantham All Stars’ books and his ‘History of the State/Granada’ cinema/theatre tomes.

It is of a similar style and, following a brief history of the building, meticulously lists every event staged at The Barracks, dating from 1932 to 1988, that Stan could find in various archive sources.

The Barracks was built on Sandon Road in 1858 for the Royal South Lincolnshire Militia – the crest of which still sits above the main archway into the quadrangle at the front of the castellated building.

The Barracks was extended in 1872 and the ‘Drill Hall’ was added in 1911 at the rear of the main quadrangle.

‘A’ Squadron Lincolnshire Yeomanry and ‘B’ Company 4th Battalion Territorial Force later occupied The Barracks, and the Drill Hall was used as an auxiliary military hospital during the Great War.

The Home Guard later held parades at The Barracks, and Stan records the first musical soirée as being a Valentine’s dance with local band The Serenaders in 1947.

The facility was used for various sports over the years, including boxing, wrestling, and an application for it to be licensed for music and dance for the public was granted in 1955. Hundreds flocked to the venue that December to see the Ted Heath Big Swing Band.

Dances increased throughout the 1950s and with it, the introduction of rock ’n’ roll music, skiffle and beat.

The heyday of The Barracks began in the 1960s. Local bands entertained, including Grantham’s own national star Vince Eager, as well as top names such as Gene Vincent, The Hollies, Dave Berry, Moody Blues, Chris Farlowe, The Who, and Cream.The 1970s and 1980s saw local bands such as the Brick Wall Band and Overdrive utilitising the venue, and Grantham Rock ’n’ Roll Society staged a six-hour festival with Crazy Cavan live on stage.

The Barracks became a business centre in the late 1980s, ending an epic era.

The book is available only by order and can be obtained by calling 01476 564108.


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