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Sally Army marks 125 years in town

PUBLISHED: 16:51 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:12 23 August 2010

A SALVATION Army corps is to celebrate its 125th anniversary sparking memories of its volatile creation. Members of Gravesend Salvation Army Corps attended a civic reception at Woodville Halls, Woodville Place, Gravesend, on Tuesday to mark the milestone

A SALVATION Army corps is to celebrate its 125th anniversary sparking memories of its volatile creation.

Members of Gravesend Salvation Army Corps attended a civic reception at Woodville Halls, Woodville Place, Gravesend, on Tuesday to mark the milestone.

A concert featuring members of the Gravesend and Chatham Salvation Army bands is also planned at their hall in The Grove, Gravesend, from 7pm on Saturday.

Celebrations will continue with two meetings at the hall on Sunday at 10am and 6pm, led by Major Anthony Cotterill, the commander for the London south east division.

Sergeant Major John Hockley, 74, of the Larches, Higham, said: "I have been a member of the Salvation Army since going there in a pram with my mother. I'm a third-generation Salvationist. My mother was a member and her parents before her so I was born into it.

"Apart from being raised in the Salvation Army I am also a follower of their doctrines which are taken from the bible.

"The history of the Salvation Army is fascinating"

The formation of the Salvation Army in Gravesend is hazy but on October 21, 1883 Captain Harriet Charteris, supported by Major Frank Smith from the headquarters and the Chatham Salvation Army Band, erected the Salvation Army banner at the site of the former Theatre Royal in New Road, which is now a Tesco supermarket.

She was not welcomed warmly and entered the town to find placards urging the residents to 'arise and resist' the Salvationists.

Windows of the barracks were broken and when the band from Chatham arrived their instruments were smashed to pieces and thrown onto the railway track and their players beaten.

Regardless the Salvationists stayed put until 1966 when the corps moved to its new premises at The Grove where it remains to this day.

Mr Hockley added: "It's going to be quite a big weekend for us. We have got the divisional commander coming from Maidstone.

"We don't often get the opportunity to get a visit from him so we are very fortunate that he is visiting for this special occasion.

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