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The Salvation Army in Leighton Buzzard

Salvation Army Lammas Walk June 2008
Salvation Army Lammas Walk June 2008

The Salvation Army was created in London's East End in 1865 by a former Methodist minister William Booth. The Salvation Army barracks in Lake Street was registered on 25th March 1886 by Francis Summers of Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard, Salvation Army Captain. Leighton Buzzard Past and Present, published in 1905, notes that the Corps was established on 21st March 1886 "in connection with the Northampton Division". It further states that until August 1905 the Salvationists met in a yard "off the foot of Lake Street, where a large old barn, transformed from an ancient wool-stapler's warehouse, was made to answer as best it could". In 1905 the ninety or so members transferred to five old cottages in Lammas Walk on which they acquired the lease "three of which have been enlarged and converted into a capacious hall, while the other two have been partially rebuilt and improved for the occupation of local captain and the caretaker, the whole cost of the work having amounted to a little over £400".

Leighton Buzzard Past and Present goes on to describe the building in 1905: "The hall portion of the building has been practically re-erected, and the outer walls covered with lined cement stucco. The inner walls are matchboarded to a height of 4 feet 6 inches, and coloured above; the floor is of wood blocks; benches serve to accommodate some 400 people; the hall has ample window light, and is fitted with incandescent gas-pendants. At each end of a good platform is an ante-room - one for the purposes of the officers and the other for the band. The construction of the "Salvation Army Hall" as the building is named, has effected a very real improvement to the locality in which it is situate. Services are held on Sundays at seven and eleven in the morning, and at three and six in the afternoon and evening. On Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings there are general services at eight o'clock; Tuesday evenings are devoted to members only. Open-air services are held in the Market Place every Saturday evening at half-past seven. The Sunday School (at ten a.m. and two p.m.) is attended by about seventy children. There is a Brass Band of eighteen instrumentalists connected with the local corps".

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has an auction sale particular from 12th October 1926 [BML10/42/170] when a number of properties, including Eldridge and Amos in Linslade (now occupied by the Tesco site), Hillmount of Stoke Road, Linslade, Leighton House in Leighton Buzzard High Street and 1, 3 and 5 Lammas Walk were sold by the mortgagees of L.H.London.

3 and 5 Lammas Walk were part of Lot 4, the other part of which was formed by the Salvation Army Hall, which had evidently moved from Lake Street. The hall is described as "under a lease which expired on the 20th August 1926, at a rental of £36 per annum, and is now held on a weekly tenancy at 14 shillings per week. The adjoining owners are Mr.L.H.London, Miss Turnham and Mr.F.Travell". The land owned by L. H. London adjoining was 1 Lammas Walk, which formed Lot 5. Notes show that Lot 4 was purchased by Bamwell Booth for £280.

The only other records of the Salvation Army held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service are of the new Salvation Army Hall in Lammas Road, designed by Leighton Buzzard architects H.A.Rolls and Partners [Z889/2/25]. The land had been purchased from a man named Payne and the hall was constructed between 1965 and 1967. Interestingly an Ordnance Survey 1:1,250 scale map of 1970 shows both the new Salvation Army hall between 8 and 10 Lammas Walk and the old one adjacent to 1 Lammas Walk which is marked "S A Hall".