On the 20 August this year (2012) it was 100 years since the death of William Booth, at the age of 83 years, the founder of the Salvation Army. The story of his life’s work and thirst for social justice can be viewed at the William Booth Birthplace Museum in Nottingham, and on a DVD entitled William Booth: A Passion For The Poor. As an evangelist he travelled thousands of miles worldwide and raised up a Salvation Army at work in 58 countries and had influenced millions for Christ. On the 29th August 1912 London came to a standstill, the day having been designated a half holiday for the five mile funeral march to Abney Park Cemetery, the horse-drawn carriage being followed by 40 bands and a seemingly endless procession of Salvationists watched by more than two million people.
1880 Mansfield Corps Formed
On the 1st May 1880 the Mansfield Corps of the Salvation Army was formed and services were held in a temporary hall over a garage. A band was formed in 1882. A quotation from the Corps History Book says that “in 1909 there was a visit by the General (William Booth) on August Bank Holiday morning in the Grand Theatre, lent free. The General was supported by His Worship the Mayor and the whole Corporation. His Grace the Duke of Portland presided. Theatre packed, income over £60. The General excelled himself and made a great impression.”
The History Book states that “in 1921 authorities considered the hall was no longer safe to use for public gatherings, and in a matter of days many friends came to help out. The YMCA loaned their hall for Sunday morning meetings and Sunday School which at that time numbered some 500 children. The Methodists at Clerkson Street School loaned their Hall for Sunday night meetings. Other friends placed halls at their disposal for weekly activities, all without charge. Land was secured from Mansfield Borough Council in Belvedere Street and Mansfield Colliery donated bricks. Two old Army huts were purchased from Clipstone Camp, all necessary stones for the foundations were dug out of the site from old cottages previously occupied, with sand found at a lower level. And so the work for a new Hall began with the labouring work carried out by members of the Salvation Army and other friends during a 14 week coal strike.
1921 New Hall
On the 5th November 1921 the new Hall was declared open by a Mrs. Houfton who had given the first donation towards the building along with much interest and encouragement. She was 93 yrs of age at the time.”
In 1948 plans were afoot to purchase the Methodist Chapel, a much bigger building in Victoria Street and so began many fundraising activities towards the new building fund. On the 21st July 1951, thirty years after the previous hall was opened, the new citadel was officially opened by Mr. H. Bernard Taylor, member of parliament for Mansfield and supported by the mayor Councillor G Abbott and his wife.
In the community
Over the years the band has played a big part in the community. On Sunday mornings the members walked to various street locations to hold open-air services and on Sunday evenings they held a service on the Mansfield market place which was always very well attended. Then they marched back to the citadel for their own service.
1950 Band Broadcast
On the 3rd October 1950 the band broadcast for the radio from the Mansfield Museum lecture hall.
In this year of 2012 the Salvation Army is officially recognised as working in 126 countries, also being on the front line of the war zones. Mansfield Salvation Army Corps continues to be a church with a mission of a Heart to God and a Hand to Man serving the community, putting into action the vision that William Booth had all those years ago.
R & S Blythe