Tyne & Wear

Consett blue plaque celebrates Salvation Army's first band

Major David Burns, North East England area leader for the Salvation Army, Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, and Kelsey Thackeray with band members Image copyright Durham County Council
Image caption The plaque was unveiled as part of celebrations marking the band's 140th anniversary

A blue plaque has been unveiled in County Durham at the home of the first Salvation Army band.

Consett Citadel Band was formed in 1879 and was confirmed as the organisation's first by the Salvation Army's international headquarters in London.

The group moved to Sherburn Terrace in the town, where the plaque has been placed, in 1902.

Durham County Council described the historic link as "a real honour" for the area.

A number of UK bands had laid claim to being the first Salvation Army band.

However, a specially established board of inquiry agreed the Consett group was the true holder of the title and in 1906 the group received a letter confirming its status.

Before moving to its Sherburn Terrace home, which was purpose-built by the charity, the group played at various locations in the town.

In 1929, the Salvation Army's International Headquarters arranged for a photograph of the band to be taken to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

Among those pictured was Richard Chambers, whose great-great-granddaughter, Kelsey Thackeray, is a member of the current group.

Image copyright Salvation Army
Image caption This photo of the band was taken in 1929 to mark its 50th year

Band secretary Mel Soulsby said the unveiling of the plaque had been met with "great delight" 140 years after the group "made its very first appearance playing carols" in December 1879.

Councillor Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: "The Salvation Army is known around the world so to be able to say that the organisation's very first band was established right here in County Durham is a real honour for our area."

The plaque, awarded by the council, was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon.

Image copyright Durham County Council
Image caption The band formed in 1879 and has been based at the citadel from 1902

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