Allora Salvation Army Corps
History of the Allora Corps
Words by: Robert Marshall
Photo: Bram Tickle. Circa early 1900s
5 January 1888 saw the first Officers appointed to Allora, to start the Allora Corps, these being two ladies, Captain King and Lieutenant Day, sent from the Training Garrison. The first meetings were held in the Protestant Hall, which was not always available for meetings by the Army. (Allora is a rural town and locality in south-eastern Queensland, Australia, on the Darling Downs, 158 kilometres south-west of the state capital, Brisbane and 20 km north of Warwick on the New England Highway between Warwick and Toowoomba - Ed).
Lieutenant Day reported in the 'War Cry' on 8 May 1888: "The devil has been raging and trying to upset us by pelting us with ancient eggs; but on we go through all obstacles, determined to do all we can to bring men and women to the Saviour. Meetings not so well attended, but God is not confined to numbers. He has promised to be with the twos and threes, and bless them. Hallelujah! Death has been visiting this little town and called away a brother from our side. His dear father who was saved in one of our meetings a few weeks ago, said in his testimony, with tears running down his cheeks, he thanked God he was saved, or he did not know how he should bear the loss of this dear boy. Saturday night we could not have our hall [The Protestant Hall], so off we marched for an open-air. A great crowd gathered around to hear what we had to say about the old, old story. Sunday, good meetings all day. One brother said in his testimony, he thanked God for sending the Army to Allora, for if it had not been for them, instead of being in a place of worship, he would have been found in a public-house with a few pints of beer down his throat. This old-time religion is good for farmers, shearers, road-makers, butchers, grocers, carpenters, blacksmiths, doorkeepers and whosoever will, may come. God bless them. Amen".
Despite the fact that Allora was a quiet rural town, opposition to the existence of the Army was just as great as in many larger towns and cities. An early article in the local paper, the Allora Guardian, 28 October 1888, states: "another incidence of misdeeds of the Allora night prowlers, who haunt the Salvation Army and linger round the precincts of the Protestant Hall, has been brought under our notice and caused a reward of £5 (about $10) to be offered for the conviction of the perpetrators. In this instance the ruffians have varied their amusement from throwing rotten eggs, to boring holes into the walls and daubing the front of the hall, over with mud. Such conduct is despicable".
The hall was erected in 1895 on a site in Forde and Warwick Streets, being a corner block of land, which in 1898 was put up for auction, and the hall moved two building blocks South, but still in Forde Street. The dimensions were 19 feet by 39 feet and could accommodate 150 people. The land measured 33 feet by 300 feet. The cost of the land was £29/11/6 pence (about $59.00) and the building cost was £184/9/9 pence, (about $269.00) making a total cost of £214/1/3 pence (about $370.00).
Their band may have only been small in number, but we find that they were able to play at nearby Corps, such as Warwick, Yangan, Clifton, for Harvest Festivals and other special occasions. The band also played a part in Anzac Day celebrations leading the march. (This tradition is still carried on at present with the Warwick Band, each year leading this parade and remembrance service).
Primary and Juniors were a large part of the Corps, with children from Allora and the nearby outpost of Hendon being catered for, in addition boys’ Legion was also run.
Many notable Salvation Army Officers were part of the Corps history, including "Fighting Mac." Lt-Colonel William MacKenzie, Commissioner James Hay, and Commissioner Whatmore. Several visits from the "Limelight Exhibition", then "The New Bioscope Company" and the Guards band, from Melbourne. The Riverview Boys' and the Yeronga Girls' Home children, making visits for special occasions, and doing demonstrations for self-denial functions.
After 60 plus years of faithful witness, the Allora Corps closed on 9 July 1952, due to the shift in the area population, which was common during these times. The remaining Soldiers were transferred to the Warwick Corps roll. The property, Hall and Quarters were all sold in 1953, for £882 (about $1765.00). The hall was removed and the residence remained and is still in use today.
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