As well as having a regular army, Britain has had a local militia (known in World War Two as the 'Home Guard' and now the Territorial Army (Army Reserve) since 1660. These regiments were originally raised by the lord lieutenants of various counties to serve on home territory in case of need. They were made up of volunteers and principally used to quell local insurrections, although there were occasions when they were called in to support the regular troops abroad.
Following unrest in France during the French Revolution, 1794 saw the raising of 'The Troops of Yeomanry Cavalry' in Nottingham, Holme Pierrepont, Retford, Mansfield and Newark. In 1828 their name changed to the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Cavalry Sherwood Rangers and the Southern Notts Regiment became the South Nottinghamshire Hussars. The Yeomanry and Hussars were drawn from landowners and gentlemen farmers and were seen as the elite troops of the militia.
After the Crimean War of 1859 exposed how inadequate numbers were in case of an attack on home soil, a call went out for the lord lieutenants to raise as many volunteer corps in their areas as they could; this included rifle volunteers (infantry) as well as cavalry.
Nottinghamshire's Lord Lieutenant at the time was the 5th Duke of Newcastle and under him 8 rifle corps were raised, of which Collingham was number 6. The 6th Notts. Volunteer Rifle Corps was established in 1860 thanks to the efforts (and funding) of Thomas Smith Woolley Jr. (1819-1888) of South Collingham House. He also built a rifle range (butts) in the grounds of the Manor. A second butts off Green Lane (Station Road) was erected c.1894. The Collingham corps (by then called the 'F' Coy 4th Notts Volunteer Battalion), folded in 1907 when the new Territorial and Reserve Forces Act was implemented.
During the Great War the need for a 'Citizen Army' rose again and Collingham was restored as a centre for the 12th Notts. Volunteer Battalion (The Sherwood Foresters).
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