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Salvation Army Concertina Bands

malcolm clapp

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I have in my possession some photographs of UK Salvation Army concertina bands. There are ten jpgs in a file approx 1.4M and I am happy to send them to anybody interested by email.

(Sorry, my computer knowledge (lack thereof!) will not let me use all the wonderful tools like compression/zips etc and I do not want to put them up on a web site because of potential copyright problems I have been warned about).


Just a little bit of history....

The first Salvation Army Concertina Band was formed in Bristol, England, in 1882, and continued until November 1971. At the time it disbanded, there were only two other bands in existance, being Plymouth Congress Hall (formed 1892) and Doncaster Citadel (formed 1917). I have heard reports of Salvationist concertina bands in the Sheffield area and in Dumfries (Scotland), though I know nothing of these, and also at Weston-Super-Mare (Somerset), which disbanded in the late 1940s.


The Bristol Citadel Band had four concertina-band leaders over its period of existance. These were all men, as were their accompanying drummers, though the concertina players appeared to be entirely drawn from the ladies ranks.

Early Bristol instrument type is not known, but in 1920 they acquired a new set of identical instruments, stamped Ball Beavon, metal ended 31 bone button anglos in Bb/F, steel reeded in very high old pitch, and these were used up until the band was decommissioned, at which point the four remaining members were allowed to keep a concertina each. The remainder were apparently returned to Headquarters.


Doncaster Band apparently played only English system, while Plymouth had most systems represented. Weston-Super-Mare Band played Bb/F anglos similar to the Bristol band instruments.


The photographs are as follows:


Bristol Citadel Band 23rd April 1967

Plymouth Congress Hall Band 23rd April 1967

Doncaster Citadel Band 23rd April 1967

All three bands together 23rd April 1967 (these taken at a Three Band Weekend in Bristol)

Bristol Citadel Band 1960

Bristol Citadel Band c1938

Bristol Citadel Band c1923 (two photos)

Weston-Super-Mare Band c1922

Weston-Super-Mare Band c1932


If any one else has done any research into Salvation Army concertina bands, please share through this group, or contact me direct.....

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From ICA Newsletter No.144, June 1967:


The Dumfries Concertina Band

For much of this account we also express gratitude to

"The Musician" of the Salvation Army.

The Dumfries Band is the only concertina band in Scotland

and was established fifty years ago. The original photo shows

sixteen members, and there are now fourteen. Several founder

members survive, and must take pride in the continued existance

of the band. Past leaders have made notable original

contributions to the S.A. repertoire of Marches and pieces for

Songster Brigades.






On the week-end of April 22nd, the Salvation Army held

a Festival at the Bristol Citadel, the Concertina Bands from

Doncaster and Plymouth joining that at Bristol for the occasion.

We are indebted to Jim Floyd for a first-hand account of

the two days of playing, and to several members for copies of

the S.A. Journal - The Musician, which contained a detailed

article on the Doncaster Band.


The Doncaster Band was formed in 1917, soon growing to

twenty-seven members, but new reduced to fourteen. It uses

entirely 'English' Concertinas and plays from brass band parts.

This resulted in the sound being a tone higher, and of recent

years players have bad their instruments tuned to correspond

with those of the brass band, and in current low pitch, which is

a particular advantage for congregational singing, and would

enable then to mingle with brass players.


The Plymouth Band was formed in 1892, and now numbers

twelve members. Its music is arranged from brass band scores.

Like Doncaster Band, Plymouth has travelled widely, but has had

the unique experience for an all woman party, of playing a

programme in Dartmoor Prison.


Bristol Band is the oldest dating from 1882, and now with

nine members. The music is all specially arranged by the leader,

and although the band now confines itself to indoor activities,

it plays a very big part in Corps life.


The programmes were spread over two days, each band

contributing not only items from its repertoire, but also vocal

solos, items on handbells, and duets and trios on the piano.

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There seems from private correspondence some mis-interpretation of my offer of Salvation Army photos.

Firstly, these are NOT for sale; if anybody wants these photos I am happy to send them AT NO COST by email, but only as a 1.4M attachment, or individually if you like. If you would prefer a floppy, I can do this, but then it is going to start costing me money for postage....however if you want to drop by my workshop in beautiful northern New South Wales, you will be more than welcome any time. :D

Secondly, I regret I do not have the computer knowledge to distribute them in any other way; neither do I have the time or inclination to get too involved in computer technology to make this possible. If any one else has, then that's great, I can email the photos to you and you can do with them as you wish, and accept any copyright ramifications that might come your way.

I have a fairly large collection of concertina ephemera which I would like to see more widely distributed and accessible. I am sure that there is much in both private and public collections which would be of interest to others.

Or maybe not? :(

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I can email the photos to you and you can do with them as you wish, and accept any copyright ramifications that might come your way.

Does anyone here have accurate information -- or links to same -- regarding copyright laws, both international and in individual countries? I'm thinking of the actual text of the laws, but also of significant court decisions. Such information would be a big help to anyone wishing to publicize photos, music, etc. on the internet.


I do expect some of the law to be quirky, some to disagree, and some to change. E.g., I've heard that the US recently made copyright essentially perpetual, rather than expiring, but Europe has not followed suit.


I have a fairly large collection of concertina ephemera which I would like to see more widely distributed and accessible. I am sure that there is much in both private and public collections which would be of interest to others.  Or maybe not?

There definitely is stuff, and there definitely is interest.

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For properties published since 1978 US copyright term is "life + 70 years", that is, protection is allowed for 70 years after the author's death regardless of publication date.


For properties published before 1978 it's a bit more murky (having to do with renewal status, automatic renewals, unregistered renewals, etc.). It is essentially 95 years from original date of publication. This gives you a moving date of public domain, 2004 - 95yrs = all items published before 1909 are now in the public domain.


See http://www.copyright.gov


Can't help with international copyright but be aware that virtually all countries honor each other's copyright laws, with a very few glaring exceptions (Taiwan, and Peoples Republic of China being two exceptions).

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With Malcolm's agreement I am going to put these photos up on my website www.concertina.info (the Concertina FAQ). I shall, however, also contact the Salvation Army for permission. In the past I have found the Salvation Army to be sympathetic to people with a genuine interest in the concertina. (Here's an interesting fact, according to their web site, at one time one in three of all UK savationists played the concertina. It was nearly as much part of an Officer's equipment as the Bible).



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OK, here is the page with Malcolm's photos on. They are well worth the look. Wes, I've quoted the stuff from the ICA newsletter hope that's OK.




Edit: Afterthought - I wonder if anyone has put the text and the pictures together in the last nearly 40 years until Wes made the connection. Probably not, I think. I find that quite exciting.

Edited by Chris Timson
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Some side information:

Concerning the situation in Sweden I can basically confirm what is said in the article on "Concertina FAQ". Up to during 1930s, even 40s, the majority of SA officers had 'some' contact with concertina playing despite not so many using it as a primary instrument and most just for simple accompaniment when singing.

Most band activity being brass and no regular SA 'concertina band' is known to have existed here but occasional groups have been formed, up to 50 players.

When SCS (Swedish Concertina Society) was established 1983 most of the members (about 30) were active or retired officers in SA. SCS has had a permanent band since then with 4-10 members partly playing 'sacred' or 'mission music' but mainly common brass band music, arrangements of songs or popular 'chamber music'.

Today there is only a handfull officers or less still using concertina in public in the whole country.


Goran Rahm

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Hi All,


Just picking up on the mention of the 'Doncaster Band' and the importance of securing and preserving information.


Last year, I responded to a 'for sale ad' for a leather sewing machine in a Doncaster paper and in conversation with the owner, my interest in concertinas came up (I always make sure it does!).

The woman said she wished she'd known a few weeks ago as she had just sold six of them! That was more than a little upsetting in itself, but she then gave me the history.

Her grandfather had been a founder member of the Mexborough concertina band and her father, two uncles and a cousin also played. Over the years, they all passed on and the instruments and everything related to the band had been passed to one uncle. He had recently died.

She could see the antique value in the instruments but threw out, literally filled a skip with, box after box filled with band arrangements, photos programmes newspaper cuttings financial accounts and the Lord knows what else dating back to the band's inception. Effectively a full history of the band throughout it's life. You might imagine how I felt.


All she has kept is an old group photo of the band which, when she locates it, she has promised to lend me to copy. She agreed to contact some friends of her relatives to try and track down any surviving members or their relatives who might still have material, but what a loss!


That's life!



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  • 8 months later...

Though it isn't of a band, I thought I would post this rather lovely photograph here. It is a Late 19th century cabinet card photograph by Rockwood of 1440 Broadway, New York (Holland Building) of a beautiful Salvation Army lady who is posing with her four-row Jeffries (or possibly Crabb ?) concertina.


She has been identified as a highly important Salvationist, and it has been suggested that; "The photo was actually taken in 1904 or later. The rank on her shoulder straps is National Commander. Her name is Evangeline Cory Booth, daughter of General William Booth who founded the Salvation Army. She held the post from 1904 till 1934 when she became the 4th International Commander (general)", however, I wonder if it might have been taken slightly earlier, between 1896 and 1904, when she was head of the Salvation Army forces in Canada.


Named after Little Eva of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', Evangeline Cory Booth (Dec. 25, 1865 - July 17, 1950), fourth general of the Salvation Army, was born in South Hackney, London, the fourth of five daughters and next to youngest of the eight children of William and Catherine Booth. The following extract is taken from Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, James, James, and Boyer Editors, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1971:


At fifteen she donned a sergeants's uniform and began her practical training by selling the 'War Cry,' the Army's newspaper, in the streets. She was given a Salvation Army post of her own when she was only seventeen. Dynamic in personality, she preached in rundown halls, sang in public houses, accompanying herself on the guitar [or concertina], faced hostile magistrates on charges of "disturbing the peace," and melted hardened roughs. She made a striking appearance, with her tall, slender figure, flowing auburn hair, and handsome face dominated by deep, flashing eyes, and soon won the name "White Angel of the Slums."


From her active ministry in the field, she was placed in charge of the International Training College at Clapton and given the command of the Salvation Army forces in the London area. Her most effective work in England was as a troubleshooter, sent wherever persecutions, either physical or legal, were most critical. In every case her keen common sense, winning personality, and ability to discover an unusual way to win her point brought victory to the Salvation Army. When trouble arose, General Booth's command would be: "Send Eva."


Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Many thanks Stephen for a truly stunning photo', this must be the concertina pin-up of all time!

Well it's certainly not the usual stiffly formal portrait that you would usually see in Victorian photographs of British Salvationists, though the pose is reminiscent of a contemporary photograph that I have of the equally lovely "Aeolist" Eva Taylor (also the daughter of a minister, and probably deriving their common Christian name from the same source).


Evangeline Booth chose never to marry, even though she was seriously pursued by a Russian prince.


What a beautiful and intriguing woman, is there a biography in print?

A search of Amazon.com, for "Evangeline Booth", turns up 908 listings, headed by:


General Was a Lady: The Story of Evangeline Booth by Margaret Troutt, Holman Bible Pub; (June 1980)


The harp and the sword: Published and unpublished writings and speeches of Evangeline Cory Booth by Evangeline Booth, Salvation Army, Literary Dept., USA Eastern Territory; (1992)


Evangeline Booth: Daughter of Salvation by Sigmund A. Lavine, Dodd Mead; (June 1970)


War Romance of the Salvation Army (Grace Livingston Hill #21) by Evangeline Booth, Grace Livingston Hill, Tyndale House Publishers; Reprint edition (November 1, 1991).


Whilst a search of Google comes up with 980 results.


There seem to be only a few references to her concertina playing, but then she did so much else, including singing and playing several other instruments (her favourite being the harp), and she was known as "the Musician General".


One concertina reference is to be found in Apostles To The People by Hugh T. Kerr:


Little Eva soon learned the ways of street-corner evangelism. With her guitar or concertina, she sang the gospel songs, handed out copies of the 'War Cry', was one of the first women to ride a bicycle to work, and, dressed in shoddy, she appealed to and identified with the down-and-outer.


Whilst another, in Practicing Religion in the Age of the Media by Stewart M. Hoover (Chapter 5, "All the World's a Stage: The Performed Religion of the Salvation Army, 1880-1920" by Diane Winton, p.113) which can be found by searching the Amazon.com site for "Evangeline Booth concertina", describes her as "The Commander in Rags" opening one of her pagent-sermons at the Metropolitan Opera House by walking down the centre aisle playing her concertina.


Edited for clarity.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Thanks again Stephen for all of the info on Evangeline Booth. I said intriguing but I think enigmatic would be more appropriate, it is such an unlikely pose for a salvationist. I wonder why in particular she chose to be taken with the concertina, as it was not her first instrument? I wonder also about the date, she certainly doesn't look 39 years old, more like 19 or 20. Can you date the portrait from the concertina?

Edited by red
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  • 4 months later...
What a beautiful and intriguing woman, is there a biography in print?

In the meantime I also managed to purchase an out of print biography (also off eBay) : General Evangeline Booth by P.W.Wilson, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1948.


I wonder why in particular she chose to be taken with the concertina, as it was not her first instrument?

The book has 14 photographs of her, in one of which she is holding her 7-string banjo (an English variant, tuned as a 5-string with two extra basses) whilst "a little Singhalese boy whose singing helped to quell the mob at Torquay, England" holds her concertina. In another she is dressed "in shoddy" as "the General in rags", with a plaid shawl and knotted neckerchief, playing an inexpensive ten-key, 2-stop melodeon. (An instrument more befitting the role of a poor woman from the slums.)


I said intriguing but I think enigmatic would be more appropriate, it is such an unlikely pose for a salvationist.

In Apostles to the People, Hugh T. Kerr noted that "Evangeline's own dramatic presence was enhanced by her red hair, the way she wore the uniform, and her vibrant voice ..." (My underlining.)


Like I said :


... it's certainly not the usual stiffly formal portrait that you would usually see in Victorian photographs of British Salvationists ...

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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