Remembering Eckington Drill Hall - Public Art Project

In 2019, Junction Arts, in partnership with artist Coralie Turpin, were commissioned by Aldi to develop and create a piece of public art for the new Aldi store at Eckington, Littlemoor Lane.
Working with Sheffield based artist Coralie Turpin, we created a mosaic artwork that remembered the site’s storied history when it was Eckington Old Drill Hall, a beautiful social building for Eckington’s sweethearts during the second World War and decades after.

Design workshop with Eckington Secondary School

Memories of Eckington Old Drill Hall
In February 2019, we visited the Eckington over 60s group to listen to wonderful memories of the Drill Hall when it was enjoyed as a dance hall during the weekend or as an army training ground.
Here are two of the many nostalgic memories of Eckington Old Drill Hall from the over 60s group in Eckington:
“A big crowd of us used to go down. I was in the Army cadets but not for long. There was a woman from Mosborough – Grace Whawell and her partner – everyone called him Winky Norman, they used to do the jitterbug. They were that good that everybody used to stop and watch. He used to throw her up in the air and in between his legs.” Derek

“All the bombs were happening in Sheffield and we were dancing in Eckington at the Drill Hall. It didn’t stop us. I was there the first night the soldiers came in on one Saturday. There were about 23 of them, they were 18 years old. I met my husband, Archie, that night. He was the very first one of them soldiers. He was in Eckington a year and then they went to Pontefract then Scotland then Africa. 4 years he was away. He came home in 1945 on 8th January and we got married on 20th January 1945.”

Joan Dawson

In April 2019 we delivered a design session with Year 9 art students at Eckington Secondary School. The group took to the task really well, exploring designs from the memories we collected when the site was used recreationally as an army training ground and for weekend dances. The beautiful drawings and ideas created by the students were transformed into a final design by artist Coralie Turpin with one side of the artwork depicting a soldier and the other side depicting two jitterbug dancers that were remembered in the hey-day of the Old Drill Hall.

In July we returned to the school for a day of mosaic making; in just a few hours of making, the mosaic came to shape, depicting a young soldier’s face surrounded by light rays when the building once had a searchlight during the second world war.

The two-sided artwork was completed and installed by the artist within the car-park in January 2020. We hope to get students down to the site to see the finished piece, together with some of the over 60s group who contributed their memories. Thank you to Aldi for commissioning another locally routed artwork.

“I enjoyed working with Eckington School to design and make this mosaic for Aldi. The theme was such a lively one that stirred up lots of memories in the community consultation with Junction Arts. The Old Drill Hall was an amazing place full of soldiers in the daytime and jitterbug dancers in the evening, many a marriage came about locally through meeting there. I made the mosaic into the shape of a locket as I imagined people wearing lockets with photographs of loved ones inside during the dark years of the war. The dances must have been the highlight of the week so I wanted to show this jolly and lively image of the dancers on one side and the soldier on the other. The image of the soldier was a combination of designs from Eckington school and a photograph of my Grandad”.

Coralie Turpin, Artist