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Celebrating the Victorian centenary in style

The Salvation Army’s Melbourne Centenary Band in the quadrangle of the old Victoria Parade Training College with college and staff officers in 1934.


The Salvation Army’s part in the memorable Thanksgiving Service at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 14 October 1934, as part of the Victorian Centenary celebrations, was to provide spectacular musical support to the massed choir of 3500 voices.

The Salvation Army’s Melbourne Centenary Band was formed from 100 bandsmen from the Adelaide Congress Hall, Norwood and Unley Corps bands who travelled to Melbourne to take part in the celebrations.

To provide uniformity, a special festival jacket was tailored for each band member, worn with each band’s usual trousers and cap.

The Salvation Army Museum in Melbourne has an example of one of these specially tailored jackets in its collection. It is amazing to consider that these superb jackets were made only for the celebratory event and then relegated to the cupboard.

The Thanksgiving Service involved a program of scripture readings, prayers and hymns sung by massed choirs and selections played by massed bands.

The festival jacket that was worn at the Centenary Thanksgiving Service in 1934.
The festival jacket that was worn at the Centenary Thanksgiving Service in 1934.

In addition to The Salvation Army, representatives from Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Churches of Christ, Presbyterian and Anglican Churches also participated.

The service was attended by His Excellency the Governor Lord Huntingfield, the Victorian Premier Sir Stanley Argyle, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sir Harold Gengoult Smith, aldermen and councillors of the City of Melbourne, and suburban mayors and councillors.

More than 700 Scouts acted as ushers for the event, which attracted close to 100,000 people, the largest gathering of its kind ever held in Melbourne to that point.


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