What are they celebrating?

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At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this photograph was taken just a few years ago.

But how wrong you would be, the small children sat at the front will be well into their mid-30s now. According to the source of the photograph it was taken between 1976 and 1977.

The girls in the centre of the photograph are holding up a shield, so this gathering was to celebrate bringing home the spoils of a competition. But what was the event they had won?

I have been in this room on a few occasions over the years and felt pretty confident I knew where it was. But it is the people in uniform that finally confirmed where it is. It was taken in the Bethel Street Salvation Army Citadel.

The Salvation Army has a long history in Brighouse but when it first arrived 130 years ago this year the meeting at the now Oddfellows Hall had to finish sooner than expected because of the mob outside the building in Bradford Road.

Having to leave that building the first full meeting did go better and was completed in a building at the back of the Black Swan. But because of the reception from the local people the Salvation Army members were so disillusioned they left soon after the meeting.

It was not until 1888 when the Salvation Army was finally accepted which would have certainly pleased William Booth its founder who had been a Preacher in Brighouse at the old Bethel Chapel many years earlier and knew the town well. No doubt many readers will have noticed and read the blue plaque on the outside wall of the old Chapel which commemorates William Booth’s service at the chapel

The Salvation Army’s help to the needy has been seen many times and always well appreciated - probably non more so than when they began supplying and serving free breakfasts and dinners to the poor children of the town and outlying communities in 1907.

William Booth made a return visit to Brighouse in 1905 when he was escorted to a meeting at the Albert Theatre, (which is now The Calder public house) in Huddersfield Road - a far cry from the early days when the Army was practically driven out of the town.

The Army’s first home was in Stott’s Mission Bethel Street but it was Mayor Robert Thornton who officially opened its first real home, built at a cost of £2000, on September 3rd 1910.

It was only a few years ago that larger premises had to be found.

After many hours days and weeks of renovation the old Brighouse Magistrates Court became known as the new home of the Salvation Army Corps of Brighouse 33 King Street Brighouse.

With a history of selfless help in the community the members of the Brighouse Salvation Army led by Major’s Ann and David Radford continues its work today just as it always has done. Returning to our featured photograph – perhaps you are one of the girls holding up that shield if you are what had you won it for? And no doubt many of the young people in this photograph are still living in Brighouse and may be still connected to the Salvation Army.