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History

From its beginnings in Adelaide the Army spread rapidly and soon reached Victoria where the first corps in the state was opened in December 1882 at North Melbourne. By 1890, just 10 years after the first meeting in Adelaide, there were 255 corps and 419 outposts throughout Australia, manned by 747 officers, mostly "home-grown".

As new corps were opened bands appeared and proliferated. They not only attracted people to listen to the gospel but also helped to raise funds for the rapidly expanding spiritual and social work of the Army. At that time there was not much entertainment, and music whether good, bad or indifferent soon attracted a crowd.

Early in 1890 it was felt that headquarters in Melbourne should benefit from the services of a band and a small group of officers and employees was brought together under the leadership of Staff Officer Jeremiah Eunson to assist in meetings conducted by Army leaders and to campaign in the area.

The War Cry of February 22, 1890 reported:
The headquarters band is now an established institution. It is in the charge of Bandmaster Eunson and consists of the following: Major Barritt (Field Secretary), Staff Captain Leigh (Secretary for Trade), Staff Captain Fisher (accountants department), Adjutant Clarkson (trade department), Adjutant Pestell (correspondence), Ensign Stephens (The War Cry), Captain Hungerford (accountants department), Lieutenant Clark (trade department), Comrade Little (engraving), Scribes Sandall and Saunders (Field Secretary's department) and Willie, the messenger.

The musical ability of the group was undoubtedly suspect, none of the players being accomplished or experienced, and in fact some of them were complete strangers to the mysteries of brass instruments. It is unlikely that their efforts would have gained commendation from musicians, but this was the infant group which grew to maturity and became the Melbourne Staff band.

Excerpts and pictures from Ken Peeke's - Pressing Onward

The Salvation Army Headquarters brass band 1896
This is the oldest know existing picture of the "headquarters brass band" taken in 1896.

The Salvation Army band visit Geelong West in November 1929
Outside territorial headquarters at 69 Bourke Street, Melbourne ready to set off for a visit to Geelong West in November 1929.

The Staff Band playing at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance in 1945
The Staff Band playing at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance for a service to celebrate victory in Europe,1945.