The Salvation Army began life in the 1860s as the ‘East London Christian Mission’ under the guidance of William and Catherine Booth. In 1878, the organisation was restructured and renamed – becoming ‘The Salvation Army’ proper. The set-up went nationwide and eventually, of course, worldwide.
Part of the Sally Ann’s thrust from day one was music – both singing and band-playing. In the very early days, when the organisation’s open air meetings would often attract hostility, the tactic of musical diversion was a common trick. Early Salvationists, the Fry family, were the first to pick up their instruments to this effect in
However, after the 1878 restructure, individual Salvation Army corps groups were officially established across the
One of the first was that at Consett – originally called the ‘Consett Station’
– which was founded in 1878 in
Puddlers Row. A year or so later, in December 1879, the local converts formed
their own little brass band – officially the first Salvation Army Corps Band in
the world. The bandmaster was one Ned Lennox, and he was joined by George
Storey, James Simpson and Robert Greenwood – all of them workers at the nearby
iron works. Their first gigs were playing on the streets of the town during
The happy little quartet were soon in demand, playing at many meetings in the area – and even William Booth himself employed their services on several of his northern campaigns. More corps bands followed elsewhere across the country, but that of Consett’s was undoubtedly the first – research into the organisation’s history during a 1906 inquiry established this as fact (the early Salisbury Fry family, being attached to the Salvation Army’s HQ, were not considered a ‘corps’ band).
And Consett’s Salvation Army Brass Band is still going strong today, the very first example of its kind – and a part of which is now a huge worldwide phenomenon.