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The Salvation Army Citadel

The Citadel of the Salvation Army built to the design of James Souttar between 1893 and 1896 - much needed in this area when Soldiers and Prostitutes exchanged favours in the Castlegate a Baronial monument to their founder General Booth that would look quite at home today in Disneyworld.  Here the Mercat cross is released from its balustrade and Vietch Moir Fruit Stores are quite visible.  The Bus drivers and Inspectors await their appointments for work while resting on the raised flower bed wall.  Shamrock House corner shop seems out of context in a Scottish city. 

During remedial work a wall was uncovered which probably dates to the medieval period. The wall was recorded and left in situ. This area was built up by 1661, the date of Parson Gordon’s map, and the wall may have belonged to one of the buildings dating to the late medieval or early post medieval period.

It is apparent that construction of the Salvation Army Citadel had caused considerable loss of archaeological deposits for investigation. The building has a substantial basement level that formed the Veitch Moir fruit stores and also appeared to have been terraced into the lower slope of the western side of Castlehill.

This is a large and prominent building, situated in the Castlegate and terminating the Eastwards vista of Union Street. In Scots Baronial style, it is dominated by its bartizaned tower. Using a variety of castellated stylistic devices, it gives an impressive and commanding presence to this area of the city and forms a foil to the Town House nearby. 

The 3rd plan to be finally approved by the City, the Citadel was built by the Salvation Army as a complete complex comprising a Worship Hall in the centre, shops at ground level and surrounded by domestic flats. At cost of £23,000, the building was placed specifically within an area of large population and social need. A building of this size and complexity was an unusual departure for the Salvation Army, whose normal preference was to have 1 hall that served a more multi-purpose use. Some of the flats were specifically for Salvation Army personnel use, and these had direct access to the Hall. It is suggested that General Booth, touring the country prior to the building of the Citadel, was very taken with the style of the tower at Balmoral Castle and planned a similar one for the Citadel.

1901 OS map showing the Outline of the Citadel Structurethe upward steep Castle Hill (Brae) approach and Castle Terrace descent merge to one level adjacent to the old  Sick Childrens Hospital later to become Alex 'Cocky' Hunters Emporium. 

The interior of Cocky Hunter's was stacked to the roof with ancient furniture, objet d'art, wall hangings and on both sides of the street benches were laid out for the length of the premises with bric a' brac, books, toys  and old Punch Magazines for passers by to indulge in by making an offer Much like an eternal daily jumble sale of ever changing goods!

I never saw as much as a tiny needle or a ships anchor but never enquired for the same by way of a challenge as such things are not normally present in the content of family House Clearances in which 'Cocky' was urgent indulger for ever turning over his Stock in Trade.

To the right of the Salvation Army Citadel was Veitch Moir's fruit stores and imported produce was kept in their basement till ripe. Lorry loads of full stalks of bananas would arrive to the delight of local kids who eagerly picked up any that fell from the unloading process - this was policed warily by supervisors who would 'dirl yer ear' for stealing what were considered unjust rewards for starving kids.  The bananas were green and hard and any successfully 'chored' had to be kept stored in a drawer in a 'broon' paper bag to encourage ripening for a later exotic feast if you didnt get impatient with the process.  In front of that was the Castlegate bar later called the Hop-Inn (kick-oot).  Further up was the sweetie shop then the very busy paper shop beyond a mysterious gap with a set back large house which may have been the Maternity Hospital.  Then there was the Royal Oak Pub which seemed to lose its windows every Friday night when it was subject to the wrath of local sailors being denied drink or settling old scores.  Roon the corner and doon the brae was Marischal St.  On the opposite side of that street was the Long Bar with a car park in front where we would admire the the grand car models of the day.

The Grand Walt Disney Profile of the Scottish Baronial Citadel was inspired and unique and normally decked with a flagpole on the turret.  Sunday school there gave our mothers some respite and we sang while our 'cups were (never) full and running' over' as the verse lied.  The ornate windows were of stained glass extolling the virtues of General Booth's faith. Clydesdale Horses and carts abounded the harbour area streets.  The Kiosks behind the Gordon's Statue were for the Inspectors to both marshal and check the tram or bus  timetables and surprise ticket abusers.

 

The capacious balcony and Worship Hall of the Citadel No. 26 Castlegate/Street was a venue for Concerts by the Brass Band and also the Sunday School for the multitudes of local children. 

It had a grand stage and a rather foreboding painting above it of the bearded Salvation Army founder General Booth.  Sally Army girls would tour the pubs selling their War Cry publication to the uninitiated throngs dissipating their wealth in the Boozers on a Saturday night. The price of Salvation was a voluntary contribution to the collection tin and a feint hope of immediate Salvation of the weeks obligatory sins. 

...and cruelly he broke her tambourine!

Other spaces were used for Scouts, Cubs, Boys Brigade and Music Teaching.

 

Before television arrived any Street 'Theatre' was good way of passing time and enjoying the free entertainment.  Much like Speakers Corner in Hyde Park there were many drunken hecklers to interrupt the event.  Here the Sally Army band offer an impromptu Concert on the Entrance Steps of No.26 Castle Street


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Last modified: 01/09/2013