Corps of the Salvation Army began in 1889. A hall (citadel) was built in
Camden Street, Balaclava in 1892. The land was bought on 17 June that year
for £298 and the building cost £603. Only a small number of nineteenth
century churches were built by the Salvation Army in Melbourne. This one
is a simple, gabled building with a symmetrical facade and a central
entrance. Two memorial stones were laid on 16 November 1892, one by Peter
Cousin and the other by Staff Captain Saunders, which are now painted
over. The Primary Hall was opened on 27 April 1929 by Colonel Burton.
Large crowds were present and in the evening the Hawthorn Band and
Songsters gave a ‘splendid’ program.
Corps held annual harvest festivals, which lasted more than a week with
several services on Sundays, open air meetings, Home League rallies and
musical programs. Some of the latter were held outdoors with members in
uniform, and hundreds of people gathered to listen and watch. There were
also annual fairs and the self-denial drives. It was noted in 1931 that it
was ‘very hard this year’ to raise funds as the impact of the economic
depression began to take hold. The following year the result was halved
but this was attributed to the opening of the Elsternwick Corps. From
October 1950, it was ‘worked from Balaclava’.
Raid’ was held on 25 June 1932 with the assistance of the Staff Band but
the ‘History Book’ records: ‘An enthusiastic effort but not enough of
drunks’. The first mention of Christmas carolling was in 1937. It was
described as a ‘splendid success’. By 1964 they were entertaining people
with a cornet and accordion player backed by records, the performance
being ‘appreciated by the public’.
In 1935 a
house at 52 Blessington Street, St Kilda, was left to the corps by a Mr
Lyons. It was used as officers quarters. The hall was remodelled and
renovated in 1939 and re-opened by Councillor Maroney from St Kilda City
In 1938 the
Young People work was handicapped by the polio epidemic. The program
closed for three months but the workers kept in touch with the children by
visiting their homes on Sunday afternoons to hear their lessons.
Jubilee with Adjutant Oakley
Balaclava Corps celebrated its jubilee in 1939 the Corps Officer was
Adjutant Oakley. The War Cry carried photographs of various groups,
including the Corps Band, the Young People’s Singing Company, the Sunbeam
Brigade, the Home League, the Corps Cadet Brigade and the Timbrel Brigade.
1951 permission was granted for the first time in St Kilda for Salvation
Army bands to hold an afternoon program on the beach. The Springvale and
Hawthorn bands were well received.
gradually declined because of the ageing membership. On Christmas morning
1964 fourteen people were present and this was described as ‘well
attended’. In December 1974 twenty-one adults and nine children attended
the Christmas Corps Tea. The Balaclava Corps of the Salvation Army held
its final meeting on 4 January 1976 with sixty people in attendance. It
was conducted by Colonel H. Preston and Colonel Allen Sharp spoke about
earlier days. He had been sworn in at the corps when his parents were
stationed there. A corps flag was given to Sister Lois Mangalsinghe for
use by the corps in Sri Lanka. Colonel Preston closed the door of the hall
for the last time as a citadel. Ethel Clark, a former soldier, fondly
recalled her association with the corps from 1918-32. She wrote of:
Pa Florey & his flute, Tom Burt &
Eric Langley with their lovely solos & Annie Dewar singing Sunday
afternoons “His eye is on the sparrow”.
Dear old white headed Mrs Woodford, I thought she was a saint.
Bro. Green on the drum who always prayed with his eyes open.
Faithful consistent Charlie Brown.
Blind Tom Wells ...
The Corps Officers — what an impact they made on our young lives ...
Kneedrill, three open airs, three meetings and Sunday School on a Sunday,
& something else on every night in the week. We were kept busy but we
The open airs were held after very long distances from the Hall & we
marched back from them (no cars in those days).
was sold to the local Ukrainian Orthodox parish but the Salvation Army
maintains a crisis centre at 29-31 Grey Street, which does significant
work, including helping victims of domestic violence, conducting a
needle-exchange program and providing crisis accommodation, and a Bridge
Program at 12 Chapel Street, which assists those seeking drug withdrawal.
It also conducts weekly services in the former Free Presbyterian Church at
12B Chapel Street, St Kilda.
account is based on the ‘Balaclava History Book’ and Balaclava Corps
file, both at the Salvation Army Territorial Archives & Museum,
Clark (née Craig), letter describing her childhood, 1918-32.