Farewell to Belper's Salvation Army

Belper's Salvation Army Corps has closed after 78 years in the town.

Supporters enjoyed a final service at the Market Place headquarters on Sunday, August 8, before disbanding the Belper Corps.

The nearest meeting venue for the group will now be in Ripley.

Major David Haworth, from the Christian charity, said: "The congregation has shrunk and we are not able to sustain a worshipping congregation.

"We're that sorry that we have not been able to do that."

The hall will now be closed for most of the year, but will be open for the Army's Hope Cafe on the third Sunday evening of every month, from 7pm until 9pm.

Major Haworth said the cafe was a gathering point for people to come along and listen to live music and discuss spiritual beliefs.

He added: "This is the scope of the Salvation Army's ministry in Belper now. We would love to meet people who think they believe in God."

The hall, however, has been used extensively during the week by outside groups and organisations, including the cafe, and a local line dancing outfit, but it will now close its doors to bookings other than the cafe.

There are no plans to sell the building.

Church member Bob Goodall said: "It's used very well during the week.

We have calls for bookings all the time, but that's not what it's for.

"There aren't many people who run it now, and they're mostly in their 70s and 80s."

The Salvation Army has been in Belper since 1932. The church has been involved in many projects in the town over the years.

The last meeting, on Sunday, August 8, remembered some of the projects.

People came from all over the country to pay their last respects to the Belper Corps which had been such an influence on their lives. Some former members even came from Wales.

Major Haworth said: "Former leader Major Joy Caddy spoke at the meeting. She said 'Although there is some saddness in our hearts that the Corps is stopping its worshipping activities the influence of the Corps is still spreading like ripples in a pond,' which is true."