The Salvation Army in Newbiggin by the Sea

The story of Salvationism in Newbiggin by the Sea commenced in the summer of 1902.

At the turn of the century there were a number of horse-drawn caravans, which were used by the Salvation Army to evangelise outlying areas.  Newbiggin by the Sea was one of those areas, and in 1902 along came two crusaders; Captain Appleton and Lieutenant Dodds, to conduct open-air meetings on the Hill Top - where Rustic Terrace now stands.

Sunday School & Musicals

The BelieversSoon the first soldiers of the Newbiggin by the Sea Corps moved into the Wesleyan Chapel, on Vernon Place, paying a rent of 5 shillings per week.  The Chapel is now owned by the Salvation Army and is used for our community activities.  The news that the Army was in town had a great impact on the village and the larger Co-op Hall was also used.  In the early years regular social evenings were held, a Sunday School developed and the Corps produced several musicals as many were converted. 

Highlights of the last 100 years of the Salvation Army in Newbiggin by the Sea

In 1916 the first Corps brass band commenced under the leadership Captain Albert Jakeway.  The Captain who would eventually go on to be a senior leader of the Salvation Army and write numerous pieces of brass band music. 

1920s In 1923 the Corps bought 21 instruments from Backworth Colliery Band for £40.


In 1930 the Songster Brigade (choir) was commissioned under the leadership of Mr William Todd.

December 1939 saw the opening ceremony of the Salvation Army Hall on Front Street, which included a special visit by the Territorial Commander Colonel McDougall.  The key was turned by Newbiggin woman Miss Grace Arrowsmith.  Much spadework was carried out by the then commanding officers Major & Mrs Andrew Smith.

1950s In 1951 the Songster Weekend was led by Major John Gowans who would later become the General of the Salvation Army.

1960s In the early 1960s there was a time of rich spiritual blessing for the Corps under the leadership of Major & Mrs Peter McFarlane.
In 1961 Princess Margaret opened the new YMCA building in Ashington and Newbiggin by the Sea Salvation Army Band provided music for the occasion.
The 1960's also saw the commencement of the Over 60's Club, under the leadership of Jack and Minnie Ross.  The Torchbearers Youth Group also commenced with youngsters from Newbiggin by the Sea competing, and winning, in local and national sports competitions. 
The 1960's also saw the commencement of the rhythm group The Believers who were in great demand around the area.  The group with the Band and Songsters also played to large audiences in open-air meetings at the Quay Wall, beside Bertorelli's Cafe.

1970s In the 1970's the Band and Songsters were regularly visiting other Salvation Army Corps and Churches around the country and were well received.  The Band and Songsters were led for a number of years by Bandmaster William Robinson and Songster Leaders John Armstrong and Nat Graham.  The Corps has produced some notable musicians throughout its long history.

1980s 1980 saw the Songster Golden Jubilee and the Hall was packed to the rafters in an inspiring programme of thanksgiving and nostalgia.

1990s 1990 was an eventful year as the Corps celebrated its 88th Anniversary with the meetings led by Commissioner Read and a Reunion Weekend saw many former soldiers and friends travel back to Newbiggin by the Sea from all parts of the country. 
In 1991 the Songsters recorded songs for BBC Radio and were featured on the Sunday Morning Gospel Show.
The 1990's saw extensive improvement work carried out to the two Salvation Army Hall's in the village after much fundraising including a 24-hour indoor cycle marathon!  Much of the work was also carried out by members of the Corps.
1999 saw the commencement of the first Alpha Bible Course, which provides a practical introduction to the Christian faith.


Centenary2002 saw the Newbiggin by the Sea Corps celebrate 100 years of work in the village with a programme of special events organised during the year. 

This culminated with a special weekend, which again saw former soldiers, and friends return for a special celebration led by Commissioner & Mrs Alex Hughes, who are leaders of the Salvation Army in the United Kingdom.