The Salvation Army Upper Blue Mountains Corps (UBMC) is located in Katoomba and is nestled in the beautiful Blue Mountains. The corps originally opened as Katoomba Corps on 12th July 1890 with meetings mainly held in Bathurst Road, however it closed in August 1895 for unknown reasons.
The Katoomba Corps then reopened on 8th January 1914 and a new citadel including the officers quarters was built next to the current site in Waratah Street.
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. 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.
On 24 August 1939 he was elected as the fifith General of the Salvation Army and commenced command on 31 October. World War II placed heavy demands upon his leadership of a world-wide organization, but normal control was replaced by delegated authority. Carpenter relied on the local leadership, even in countries at war with Britain, and Salvationists the world over knew they could trust him.
In the aftermath of the war Genral George Carpenter began the work of reconstruction, particularly in shattered Europe. Because of the difficulties of assembling electors for the High Council, his term was extended until April 1946. Upon the appointment of his successor, he and his wife and daughter retired to Sydney, arriving in June. Carpenter died on 9 April 1948 at Earlwood. Following a Salvation Army service he was buried in Rookwood cemetery. Minnie Carpenter died on 23 November 1960 at Undercliffe, Sydney, and was also buried in Rookwood cemetery.
The Golden Stairs to Glory
Another of the local snippets of corps history centres around another well known 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. Below is a photograph of the original Waratah Street Hall in 1914.
Katoomba Corps becomes Upper Blue Mountains Corps
The Corps name was changed in 1995 from Katoomba Corps to Upper Blue Mountains Corps (UBMC) to better reflect area and community in which corps members come from.
The corps has always been very socially active and a current feature is The Salvation Army 'Breakfast Club' which began in 1998. Volunteers provide a cooked breakfast for between 5 and 25 homeless and socially isolated people every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 0730 -08.30am.
The Family Store Katoomba is located on the lower floor of the Waratah Street complex and is an important part of the ministry of the corps. The Community Services Centre is also located within the same complex
The Salvation Army Emergency Services corps team has long and distinguished history of service to the community, 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.