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News: March 2021


150 years of the Salvation Army

Salvation Army brief history

The development of the Salvation Army began in the East End of London in 1865 led by William Booth. It was begun as an open-air evangelical mission and commenced from a tent on Mile End waste. This branch of the Christian Church developed along military lines and military metaphors and symbols were used to illustrate this. The ‘Army’ grew and initially utilised hired halls and other venues. Sacred buildings were not considered necessary for the worship or God or saving of souls. However, in 1880 William Booth founded the architects’ office, in response to the rapidly growing numbers joining the army.

Salvation Army buildings

The buildings of the Army developed and aimed to translate into bricks and mortar the spiritual goals and objectives of the mission. The mission is to bring the Glory of God through worship, activity and influence on people’s lives. Every building opened by the Salvation Army has been built ‘TO THE GLORY OF GOD’ and these words are often found carved on foundation stones and plaques.

Early buildings were more inclined towards the ‘army’ imagery with castellation and called citadels and fortresses. The interiors of the citadels resembled music halls rather than traditional churches as Salvationists sang songs to secular tunes. Local vernacular architecture was reflected in designs, but it is thought that red brick was often chosen as a symbol of the blood of Jesus (and was also the main colour of their flag). Worship halls had few essential items: a platform for preaching and leading singing, a penitent’s form or mercy seat and ample seating for the large congregation with clear views of the platform.

Meeting halls, in line with the teaching of holy people rather than holy places, were initially used for every kind of activity.

The unassuming architecture was designed to contribute to communities with the needs of the consumer placed before symbolic expression and curtailed by tight budgets.


                                The Salvation Army Citadel, York. © Mr Peter Briggs

The Salvation Army Citadel, York, this grade II Listed building was opened March 26th 1883 by General Booth with a grand ceremony and parade (1). The “barracks” was intended to hold 4,500 people and the site chosen was at the end of Gillygate on a portion of land known as ‘Meek’s field’. 

The Architect was Edmund James Sherwood (Commissioner Sherwood). He is listed in the general staff of the Salvation Army headquarters as Architect and Surveyor in 1880 and described as Commissioner for Property. There was phenomenal growth at this time within the Salvation Army and great demand for appropriate buildings. Design was influenced by the need for large capacity seating with the cheapest methods possible.

The York citadel was a symmetrical design in red brick with ashlar-covered gables. There is a plaque inscribed “SALVATION ARMY” in the centre of the front over the doorway and above this over the window “ERECTED 1882”. The keystone reads “BLOOD AND FIRE”.  Inside, the interior was intended to have an extensive area and a raised gallery at the far end for the “soldiers” and large galleries on three sides. Originally the seats were of pitch pine and windows had stained glass.

The Sole contractor for the building works was Mr Clark, of Barker-Hill, York and the cost for the land had been £750, the building £3,265 and extra expense for ground works £130 (1).

There was much ceremony for the laying of foundations stones on 10th July 1882 which was attended by William Booth and two of his daughters. Stones were laid by the Lord Mayor (Mr Alderman Agar), Mr J Bass (Wesleyan), Miss Booth, Mrs Sessions (Society of Friends), Mr Lumley of York and Rev AR Fausset, Rector of St Cuthberts’ who was officiating on behalf of TBB Ferris, Vicar of St Thomas’s, who was ill (2).

1-      York Herald Tuesday March 27 1883 page 3 “The Salvation Army in York”

2-      York Herald 11th July 1882 page 6 “The Salvation Army in York. Erection of a new barracks great demonstration”

The building is currently for sale.

                    Salvation Army Citadel, Sheffield, Grade II© Mrs Barbara A West LRPS

Salvation Army Citadel, Sheffield, the foundation stone was laid Monday September 12th 1892. Commissioner Howard, Mrs Bramwell Booth (or behalf of her husband who as ill), Colonel Rees, Alderman Betty Langley JP, Rev John Calvert was supposed to lay a stone, but was absent, so Mrs Percy Rawson did so instead. Other officers of the Army also laid stones. (3)

Cost estimated £17,000 of which only £7,000 for the citadel and the rest was to build the shops and offices on Pinstone Street, which the rent of which would provide an income for the Army. These retain the original roof-line crowded with decorative gables, turrets, dormers and chimneys. (4)

Designed by William Gillbee Scott (1857-1930) of 25 Bedford Row, London (4), the building is a red brick with painted ashlar dressings in a castellated style. The crenelated parapet, machicolations and 3 stage square turrets are particularly distinctive. A panel inscribed “SALVATION ARMY CITADEL” lies in the centre of the front. The interior, in keeping with the basic needs, is theatre-like with canted corners and ramped seating and a gallery with cross beams carried on cast-iron posts. The steel trussed roof has a large central rooflight.

 (3) The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent. Tuesday Sep 13 1892. Issue 11678 “The New Sheffield Citadel- Laying the foundation stone”

(4) Pevsner  - Sheffield – page 97

The building is currently unused but is part of the re-development plans for Sheffield Retail Quarter.

Salvation Army Social Work

Returning home late on a cold December night in 1887, William Booth was shocked to see men sleeping out on the London bridges. The next morning he challenged his son Bramwell to 'go and do something'. Four shelters for homeless men were immediately set up in London. In 1890 William Booth set out in his book “In Darkest England and the Way out” the situation in England of the poor and effective ways to help them. The early shelters were very basic providing little wooden boxes with leather covers tightly packed together. In 1965 a review of the provision for homeless men highlighted how the accommodation provided had not improved much since the 1890s.  A programme to replace all the old hostels began. There was little guidance available concerning the standards of accommodation appropriate for such buildings, so the Army encouraged and sponsored research into this area. This fed into the design process for the new hostels.

Salvation Army Men’s Palace, Newcastle

Salvation Army Men's Palace, Newcastle © John Topping

The Men’s Social Services Centre, Newcastle was constructed in 1974 to the designs of Ryder & Yates. A curved linear building in blue brindle brick, the building sits in a commanding position adjoining the seventeenth-century Keelman’s Hospital in City Road. The architects were one of the most important post-war regional firms in England, whose work on buildings for healthcare and welfare demonstrate how modern architecture could serve the needs of the community in the tradition of Lubetkin and Le Corbusier, two of the greatest influences on the practice. The building is a best example of the new style post-war Salvation Army Hostel. It replaced an earlier Mens’ Palace on the same site. It was designed to house 184 men in dormitories and in a flexible format of small rooms. The complex also incorporated day rooms, a dining room, facilities for the elderly and a small hospital. The rear range provided staff accommodation, a small 'family centre' and a garage. The total cost was £636,600. The building was officially opened on Friday January 10th 1975 at 1.30pm, by the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Tyne and Wear, Sir James Steel, CBE, DL. Other attendees included senior Salvation Army figures, civic dignitaries and church leaders who attended a service of dedication accompanied by Salvation Army bandsmen.

The building is still owned by the Salvation Army, but no longer in use as a hostel.

Sayer's Farm, Hadleigh

Hadleigh Colony - Salvation Army Dairy Farm

William Booth had a vision for providing training for the poor via a number of colonies. He set out this vision in the book 'In Darkest England and the Way Out' 1890. He then acquired a number of farms in the Hadleigh area of Essex. These became the Hadleigh colony for farming and brick making.
As part of redevelopment work, one of the farms, Sayers farm, was recently subject to an historic buildings survey. Several of the buildings dated back to 1891 when the farm was bought by the Salvation Army.

The farm was established in the 18th or early 19th century, and later rebuilt as a dairy farm c1891. A middle range was added, forming an E-shaped plan of two south-facing yards, and a third yard, the bullock yard, was added to the east. From this period only two buildings remained at the time of survey in 2014, as the farm was rebuilt again between 1896 and 1923. The 1896 map also suggests the adjacent brickworks was at this time quite small. The brickworks expanded and by 1898 there were three separate works and a pottery.

        1896 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map of Sayers Farm. Note the beginnings of the
         brick works. 1:2500 © Ordnance Survey and database right Crown copyright and Landmark Information Group Ltd (All rights reserved 2015) Licence 000394 and TP0024

During World War Two the brick works were closed and the site was used by the Royal Artillery Regiment as a Heavy Artillery Battery (Scheduled). Later, the brick works closed completely in 1957.
The farming activity between 1896 amd 1904 covered a wide range of crops and market gardening, a dairy farm of 80 cows, 200 beef cattle, 800 sheep and lambs, 360 pedigree MIddle-White Yorkshire pigs and pedigree Suffolk Punch shire horses, 2000 chickens, rabbits, Persian cats, bulldogs and bee keeping.
By 1912 (the year of William Booth's death) almost 7000 men had been trained there. Special provision was made for youths, 14-19 years, to be trained on a six week course to equip them for work elsewhere in the British Empire. After the First World War, this social experiment was scaled down and some land was sold off. With the creation of the Welfare state after Second World War the original aims of the colony seemed no longer necessary. So in 1968 the colony closed, but the farm continued to run as a commercial venture, the profits supporting the work of the Salvation Army Social Trust. In 1990 the Hadleigh Training Centre was opened on the site of the farm. It works with the local authority to traIn people with special educational needs.


Other Salvation Army buildings

                Sunbury Court

 Sunbury Court grade II*  © Mrs M.A.C. Ball LRPS

The Salvation Army bought Sunbury Court in 1925 (the house and 50 acres) and intended it as a conference centre. It became the focal point for the Army and is used for the meetings of the High Council. The house is of red brick with stone and cement-rendered dressings and has a central pediment to the south front.

The main house of Sunbury Court dates back to 1723 and was built by John Witt a master builder. Originally of seven bays, with straight passages leading to outer pavilions, it had stables, coach house, yards  and gardens enclosed by a brick wall. The estate was over 100 acres which extended to the Thames and two of the islands. It had earlier been part of the Royal Manor of Kempton . It was formerly called Sunbury Place until 1866. It was sold in 1735 and again in 1751 and 1755. The heiress Anna Maria Delegard now owned Sunbury and in 1764 married George Fermor. He commissioned Elias Martin to paint the murals in the main dining room. Sold again in 1799 and continued to sold and changed until the last private owner Lieut-Colonel William Horatio Harfield. In 1877 there was a fire which damaged both wings, but not the central section. Harfield then enlarged the house adding to the east and west of the central block, constructed to match the original building.

After his death the house was a country club, which failed. The property was left empty and derelict. The estate was divided and Harfield Road built. The house and 50 acres were put up for auction in 1925. The Salvation Army bought it for £10,500 as a conference centre.

                Notintone Place 

 Notintone Place   © Dr Eric Ritchie

Number 12 Notintone Place, Nottingham is the house where William Booth was born 10th April 1829.  It is now grade II Listed along with the houses either side (numbers 10 and 14). The group are now called the ‘William Booth Memorial Complex’ which includes an elderly person’s home and a goodwill community centre and it also houses the William Booth Birthplace museum.  

The properties date back to c1825 and were built by William Booth’s father. They were built as an independent group of three houses, but by 1830s had become part of a larger stepped terrace.

Notintone Place was acquired in the 1930s by the Salvation Army as a hostel. In the late 1950s the three houses were acquired by the City council as part of their slum clearance programme, but then re-let to the Army. The museum was formed in 1959 and it was announced in 1963 that the house would be spared the slum clearance and transferred to the Army. By 1965 all the surrounding properties had been demolished, so the three stood once again alone. Restoration and development was carried out 1969-71 and designed by the in-house Architects Office of the IHQ of the Army (under Major David Blackwell and project manager David Greenwood).  They were opened 1st October 1971 by Sir Keith Joseph, MP (Minister of Social Services), General Erik Wickberg and Commissioner Catherine Bramwell-Booth (granddaughter of William Booth).

Listed Statues

Statues of William Booth and Mrs Booth

Both statues were unveiled Monday 8th July 1929 by HRH Prince George, Duke of Kent. Design by  George E Wade c1927. Both are located outside the William Booth Memorial Training College, Champion Park, Denmark Hill, London.

-          General William Booth (1829-1912), founder of the Salvation Army. Bronze with stone pedestal inscribed "GENERAL WILLIAM BOOTH FOUNDER OF THE SALVATION ARMY BORN APRIL 10TH 1829 PROMOTED TO GLORY AUGUST 20TH 1912".

-          Mrs Catherine Booth, wife of General William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army. Bronze on grey granite stone pedestal inscribed "MRS CATHERINE BOOTH THE ARMY MOTHER BORN JANUARY 17TH 1829 PROMOTED TO GLORY OCTOBER 4TH 1890”

A further statue of William Booth is in Mile End road a bronze bust also by Wade unveiled 15th December 1927. Bronze bust of William Booth on white stone square plinth with chamfered corners. Inscription: "William Booth Founder and First General of The Salvation Army. Commenced the work of the Salvation Army on Mile End Waste. July 1865".

                                   Statue at Mile End of William Booth ©  Peter Fuller