The Salvation Army Upper Blue Mountains Corps is located in Katoomba NSW in the beautiful Blue Mountains. The corps originally opened as Katoomba Corps on July 12 1890 with meetings mainly held in Bathurst Road, however it closed in August 1895 for unknown reasons. The Katoomba Corps then reopened on January 8 1914 and a new citadel including the officers quarters was built on the current site in Waratah Street that same year.
A Future General
A most notable character from the corps past was the future General George Carpenter. While his mother was a Salvationist, George was converted in the Methodist Chapel in Raymond Terrace. In 1891 George moved to Katoomba where he worked as a compositor for "The Blue Mountains Express". Many of the people George worked with tested his faith but George did not give up. Even though he did not know anyone in Katoomba he began attending the Methodist Chapel. He met the Salvation Army again through the open air meetings Katoomba Corps would hold in Katoomba Street. Despite the dubious level of musicianship displayed by the band George joined the small corps and soon became involved in all aspects of corps life although he was enrolled as a Soldier back in Raymond Terrace. In 1892 George Carpenter was accepted for Officer Training in Melbourne and the corps bid him a sad but fond farewell. He worked variously in property, training, editorial and administrative work in Australia and the UK. Aged 67, Carpenter was elected as the fifth General of The Salvation Army on 24 August 1939 by 35 of 49 votes. He assumed command on 1 November 1939. It was Carpenter's weighty responsibility to encourage Salvationists as they entered the Second World War, both as combatants and non-combatants. Carpenter retired in 1946 and died in 1948, aged 76. George Carpenter was the first Australian elected as General of The Salvation Army.
The Golden Stairs to Glory
Another of the local snippets of corps history centres around another local landmark known as "The Golden Stairway". It is said that the stairway got it's name by way of the Salvation Army Officer who would walk down the stairway to hold services for the shale miners in the Jamieson Valley. On the way back up the officer would sing Emma Booth's song, "O I'm climbing up the Golden Stairs to Glory."
In 1968 a fire destroyed the original corps building which also was the original officers quarters. A local story says that the fire was started by the son of a member of the corps after he was told they needed a new hall. A new citadel was opened later that year.
Katoomba Corps becomes Upper Blue Mountains Corps
The Corps name was changed in 1995 from Katoomba Corps to Upper Blue Mountains Corps to better reflect area the corps members came from. The corps reached it's numerical height in 1995 under the leadership of Captain's Brian and Linda Hope with a very large youth group. A feature at this time was the corps youth band "On High" which was very active in outreach. This included many trips to other corps and musical support at a Territorial Congress in the mid 1990's.
The corps has always been very socially active and a current feature is The Salvation Army Breakfast Club which began in 1998. Volunteers provide breakfast for between 5 and 25 homeless and socially isolated people every weekday Monday, Wednesday and Friday
The Family Store Katoomba is located next door in Waratah Street is an important part of the ministry of the corps. The Community Services Centre is also located in the Family Store.
The Salvation Army Emergency Services corps team has long been active due to the many bush fires that are a common occurrence in the Blue Mountains Area.
Over the weekend of March 20 & 21 2009 the corps celebrated 100 years of The Salvation Army in the Blue Mountains. The Territorial Mobile Mission Team band and songsters played a Saturday night concert and the Sunday morning celebration was led by the Divisional Commander Major John Rees.