The Lost ARC – also known as The ‘Old Drill Hall’, though many residents still call it ‘The Mace’.
A mixed history, interesting stories, happy memories and a bright future.
It was clear from the outset that this was a building with an interesting and varied history. What we didn’t realise was the extent to which it has been a part of the social fabric of Rhayader. So many people have come to talk to us about their connections with the building – we have spoken to people who lived in it, worked in it, met their life-partners in it! We have pieced together bits of the history – but they have not been fully researched or verified, so all our dates are approximate and other than the documentation which we acquired on purchase, our sources have been mainly word of mouth. We are thoroughly enjoying this social history jigsaw which is piecing itself together and if you have anything to add we would love to hear from you.
This is what we think we know…
- 1178 Rhayader castle has a Mill on the site both are long gone.
- 1803 New evidence suggests that the weir and moat/race/culvert were built to supply the newly built woollen mill, which makes it almost 30 years older than we thought!
- 1830 Current building originally 3 stories built as Castle Leather Works. A leat of water is channelled under the building to power the machinery.
- 1899 The building is taken over by Henry Batten of Church Street to undertake leather dressing, but by now the tanning boom was over.
- 1906 Purchased for £1650 by Mr Edward Pryce from D.T.M. Hope-Edwards of Glanserth. Second floor is let to the Home Guard (Militia).
- 1911(December) Fire destroyed top floors-rebuilt by new owner Edward Morgan in present form-Top floor removed and the ground floor raised about 5 feet.
- 1913(November) Cinematography comes to the Castle Cinema-’Kings of the Forest’ is the first feature film.
- 1914 The hall continues as a cinema and is also used for Whist Drives, Dances and Concerts run by Maisie Morgan (Morgan “the Organ”) for 44 years. Locals say people travelled from as far away as Builth and the queue often stretched onto the high street. The acoustics were apparently ‘superb’ and the atmosphere ‘lively’.
- 1924 The ‘D’ Squadron Montgomery Yeomanry install a shooting range alongside the auditorium the hall continues to be used as a drill hall.
- 1958 TV starts to influence the entertainment industry. The hall is let to an engineering company ‘Orbital Gears’ who move to larger premises in 1980.
- 1973 Shirley Walton (Morgan) – who lived there when she was born – now owned the property and was responsible for it up to 2013 with her husband Bill Walton.
- 1975 We have found receipts from September 1975 for J&B Supermarket. The address on the receipts is The Old Castle Cinema.
- 1996 Taken over by ‘The Mace’ continues as a supermarket and off licence run by John the Mace and his son Nigel the butcher.