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The Salvation Army in Girtford

The site of the Salvation Army Barracks August 2010
The site of the Salvation Army Barracks August 2010

The Salvation Army barracks on the north side of Bedford Road, at the junction with Church Path, was registered on 19th November 1888 by Captain Mary Bird. The Bedfordshire Mercury of 17th November 1888 had the following short piece about its opening.

"THE SALVATION ARMY commenced operations on Sunday last with great vigour the occasion being the opening of the new barracks in the Bedford-road. During the day a series of marches, meetings, and services were held conducted by Major Oliphant and a number of officers from Corps in the district. Large crowds attended each. The following day services and a tea were held and largely attended".

The neighbouring Salvation Army barracks, in Potton, had many difficulties from a subversive organization calling itself The Skeleton Army which, between 1884 and 1892, opposed Salvationists marches with abuse and sometimes violence. The Skeletons objected to Salvation Army opposition to the sale of alcohol. Sandy, by contrast, does not seem to have had such a well organised opposition to the Army.

The barracks cannot have been in operation for very long. The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and building in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Most of Bedfordshire was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting the barracks [DV1/C29/132] found the brick and slate, detached building owned by a P. Bywaters and vacant, in fact it was "boarded up". The valuer noted that it was the "Old Salvation Army Hall" and included a washhouse measuring 7 feet 9 inches by 5 feet 6 inches and a w. c. measuring 5 feet by 3 feet 6 inches. The site also carried an advertising hoarding measuring 5 feet 6 inches by 8 feet. Today the site is occupied by modern housing.