The Salvation Army’s first church brass band in the world.

In a fitting tribute to a remarkable legacy, the Consett Salvation Army Band, the oldest of its kind in the world, is being celebrated through a captivating photo exhibition marking its 145th anniversary. This event highlights the band’s foundational role in the community and its ongoing mission of hope and service.

This historical photograph from 1903 captures the Consett Salvation Army Band, illustrating the early formation of this iconic ensemble. The band members are shown in formal Salvation Army uniforms, holding various brass instruments, posing in front of their band hall on Edwin Street, Consett. This image reflects the longstanding musical tradition and community spirit that the band has upheld since its inception in 1879.

Originally formed in 1879, the band has been integral to the Salvation Army’s mission, using brass music to inspire and uplift. The exhibition, which opens on the 12th of July at the Consett Salvation Army Hall, features an extensive collection of historical photographs and memorabilia, tracing the band’s evolution from its inception to the present day.

A standout piece in the exhibition is a photograph from 1903, showing bandmaster T. Snowdon and band secretary W.J. Woodley among other members. This image is a testament to the band’s enduring presence in the community, from its early days through to its contemporary formation.

The band’s journey began under the influence of Ned Lennox, inspired by the Fry family musicians and General William Booth’s evangelical tours. Lennox’s home on Puddler’s Row became a hub of musical activity, nurturing the talents of local workers from Consett’s iron industry.

Today, the band comprises a diverse group of individuals, including students, retirees, and professionals from various fields, all unified by their commitment to the band’s mission. Bandmaster Phil Baker shares, “Our history is rich with stories of resilience and community support. As we celebrate this milestone, our focus remains on fostering hope through our musical outreach.”

The band has overcome numerous challenges, including industrial decline and initial societal opposition. Their resilience is highlighted in the historical account of Captain Polly Barber, who, during the 1880s, faced arrest for leading the band in an outdoor service in Gateshead—a vivid illustration of their dedication to their cause.

In recognition of its significant impact, the band has been commemorated with a blue heritage plaque, unveiled in 2019 during its 140th anniversary by Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of Co Durham. This plaque is a symbol of the band’s historical and cultural significance in the region.

Celebrating 145 Years: The World’s Oldest Salvation Army Band in Photos

The exhibition, running from 10 AM to 2 PM on the 12th of July, invites the community and visitors to explore the rich tapestry of the band’s history and to celebrate its 145 years of musical service. This event not only honors the band’s past but also its pivotal role in continuing to inspire future generations through the power of music. See more on the event on the Consett Salvation Army Band Facebook group.


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Barry Kirkham
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10 COMMENTS

    • Jon Storey – A great cornerstone of Concert Salvation Army and the Town.
      Compiled evidence linked to the claim of Concert S.A. having the First S.A. Corps Band.
      Consett Urban Council Chairman on three occasions – A man ahead of his time !!!
      Jeff Baker BEM

    • Jon Storey Correct A great character to Consett Salvation Army & the Town.
      Instigated the claim for Conset t S,A. Bands claim to be the first in the world
      Secondly, was Conset t Urban.District Council Chairman on three occasions.
      Jeff Baker BEM

  1. As a very small aside, bit of my family history.

    A personal family member was (I believe) one of the founders of the Salvation Army / composed some of their original music! Great grandfather I think

    George Marshall was one of the early giants of Salvation Army music. He is known as the Army’s “March King”, with many well-known marches including

    “Spirit of Praise”, which are still performed quite regularly. He was for many years bandmaster of the Salvation Army band at South Shields and was confined to a wheelchair as a result of a mining accident.

  2. Paul Rowe Yes you are correct a great musician,albeit not a founder.member, the family resided in the Harton Lea area of Shields – The S,A. published some years ago a book about Geo, Marshall life, which is interesting.
    He composed choral music as well as brass works, which are still played today
    Jeff Baker BEM

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