Spalding honours Salvation Army’s Booth

General William Booth who worked with the Methodist Church in Spalding before founding The Salvation Army 150 years ago.
General William Booth who worked with the Methodist Church in Spalding before founding The Salvation Army 150 years ago.
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The life and legacy of the man who founded The Salvation Army 150 years ago has been celebrated with the unveiling of a plaque in Spalding.

General William Booth, who worked with an offshoot of the Methodist Church in Spalding for a year during the 1850s, was honoured in a civic ceremony organised by Spalding and District Civic Society on Saturday.

This is reflected glory for my great-great-grandfather who was a great preacher and social reformer.

Colonel Bramwell Booth

Among the guests invited to the unveiling were South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes, South Holland District Council chairman Francis Biggadike and his wife Freda, vice chairman Coun Rodney Grocock and Spalding town centre manager Dennis Hannant.

The plaque itself, which stands above the window of Boots opticians in Bridge Street, was unveiled by General Booth’s great-great-grandson Colonel Bramwell Booth who said: ”This is reflected glory for my great-great-grandfather who was a great preacher and social reformer.

“Colonel Booth wrote a book (in 1890) called In Darkest England and the Way Out, based on the book In Darkest Africa (by Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley), which was a plan for social reform and led to the founding of the welfare state in the UK.

“My great-great-grandfather wanted people to have what he called the ‘Cab Horse Charter’ which were food, work and shelter.

“This is what Colonel Booth thought that every man and woman should have if they wanted it.”

Nottingham-born Booth was just 23 when Free or Reformed Methodist in Spalding invited him to become their minister, despite having no theological or leadership training as his training was in pawnbroking.

Having arrived in Spalding in November 1852, Booth lived in Red Lion Street and then Bridge Street, preaching in churches from Holbeach Drove to Boston until he moved back to London in 1854.

David Radford, a historian on Booth based in Boston, said: “Booth learned much of his trade in Spalding and its surrounding villages, modelling himself on travelling preacher and founder of Methodism, John Wesley.

“Already an enthusiastic preacher, Booth wanted nothing more than to ‘save souls’ by persuading people to change their ways and become Christians.”

Booth is the fifth person to be honoured with a blue plaque in Spalding, eight months after one was unveiled for late rock star Jimi Hendrix.

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