Birthday Celebrations, Drake Hall, near Eccleshall

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Description:Page 18 of 'Drake Hall - A War-Time Hostel', a souvenir book produced for staff and residents at the Swynnerton Royal Ordinance Factory hostel at Drake Hall, produced in 1945. The First Birthday Celebrations held at Drake Hall on 17 April 1943, an evening of music revue entitled 'Spring Rhythm'. "The birthday dinner provided by Mr. Bean was one of the high spots."

Drake Hall was built by the Ministry of Supply to accommodate munitions at nearby R.O.F. Swynnerton and opened in 1942. It was named after Sir Francis Drake. There were 15 residential blocks, each with a male name, arranged alphabetically. At the centre of the site was an assembly hall, games room, canteen, kitchen, sick bay and administrative block. Many of the residents came from Ireland and Scotland and the Manager was Mr J.H. Damms. The Manageress and Welfare Officer was Mrs D.H. Damms. A wide range of activities, entertainments, talks, lectures and dramatic productions were put on for the residents, as well as a wide range of indoor games and sport, including netball, hockey, tennis, badminton, cricket and football.

Towards the end of the War Drake Hall hosted 132 evacuees, all of whom were old age pensioners. It closed shortly after the end of the Second World War but reopened in the 1960s as a male open prison. In 1974 it became a female open prison. Most of the accommodation blocks were rebuilt in 1994-95 and in 2009 it became a closed prison.