Webpage created: February 12, 2016
Webpage updated: December 30, 2018
The Drake Institute, otherwise known as the Church of England Soldiers' and Sailors' Institute, was located at the bottom of Devonport Hill, just above the Stonehouse Bridge.
The first part of the Church of England
Soldiers' and Sailors' Institute
Although the originator of the idea was a Colonel Purches when he was in command of the Royal Engineers in the district, no progress was made until it was taken up by the Reverend A Malim, a retired Army Chaplain. Early in 1901 he organised a bazaar and raised £119 10s that afternoon. He solicited donations and raised thirteen subscriptions amounting to £15 3s and then engaged the architect, Mr Kitsell, to draw up plans for the building. At the start of the building work the funds stood at £1,040. Mr Blake, the contractor, began work on the site on May 14th 1903.
HRH the Princess Henry of Battenberg laid the memorial stone on Wednesday July 15th 1903.
The Drake Institute was officially opened on Monday January 25th 1904 by Lieutenant-General Sir William Butler KCB in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Devonport, Mr & Mrs H Hurrrell, and the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir E H Seymour GCB, OM.
Built in the Queen Anne style of architecture, the building contained rooms for single men and suites for married families, as well as a reading, writing and billiard room, a coffee room and bar, a large recreation room, and a devotion room. The Institute was open to men of any religion.
Mrs Susanna Scott was manager of the Institute during the Great War while her husband, Mr Henry Scott, was serving in the Royal Marines. She had a large collection of postcards she received from servicemen doing duty overseas. The Scott's left Devonport during or soon after 1920 and moved to Brighton, Sussex, where Mr Scott became the caretaker of the Richmond Street School.
The Drake Institute was destroyed during the Second World War and the site is now occupied by the block of Council flats facing King's Road.