Currently owned by Derby City Council the former Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers Barracks on Uttoxeter have a very important past.
In 1859, following an assassination attempt on Emperor Napoleon III, tensions rose between the United Kingdom and France. With our troops spread throughout the British Empire on garrison duty, fear of war at home swept the country. The Secretary of State for War, Jonathan Peel authorised the formation of volunteer rifle corps (VRC, a.k.a. corps of rifle volunteers and rifle volunteer corps).
Derbyshire responded and the Duke of Devonshire requested the formation of the Volunteer Force in Derbyshire. In July 1860, the 1st Administrative Battalion was formed in Derby under the Command of Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Gresley, 10th Baronet.
The Derbyshire Volunteers’ Rifle Barracks are a group of buildings located at the Rowditch near Uttoxeter Road. Designed by Edwin Thompson of Derby and built in 1859 of red brick with ashlar dressings and shallow hipped slate roofs, the militia barracks are described by Historic England as “a very rare and well preserved example of a local volunteer barracks.”
With such historical and social significance, the barracks became a Grade II listed building in 1998. The barracks are surrounded by a three-meter-high brick wall, with its entrance flanked by two guard houses. The collection of buildings briefly comprise barracks, rifle range, officer’s quarters, wash houses and privies. By c.1880 the barracks were disused, later becoming a laundry, and then an engineering works and subsequently public toilets and a tennis club.