In 1899 The Salvation Army came to the Tweed, Captained by 24 year old Ava McGrath. In the early days services were held either in a small hall on Church Hill, the School of Arts Building (demolished in the 70’s), or on the bustling streets of Murwillumbah.
Captain Ava McGrath held her guard for only a brief time. On her way to a meeting in Tumbulgum, she and another lady Captain were rowed in darkness down the Tweed River. They were run down by the Skinners’s ferry steamer and both were drowned. Although brief, Captain McGrath played a trailblazing and valiant role in bringing a fairly unknown movement to the Tweed, initially with ridicule and hostility.
The Salvation Army proved their value in Murwillumbah over many years, and particularly during the First World War. Plans were made to construct a permanent place of Worship and The Citadel was finally built in 1920. In the early days the “Corps” prospered with a congregation of up to 200. These included 3 generations of the Griffin family who every Sunday led the Army band from the centre of Murwillumbah, near the Austral Cafe, back to The Citadel on Queen Street.
Murwillumbah Salvation Army Marching Band 1920’s
After 71 years, with dwindling numbers, in 1991 The Salvation Army Citadel was sold and effectively decommissioned as a place of worship. The building has since primarily been used as an Antique Furniture Business and a private residence and is now being revived as a venue for performing and visual arts.
Tubas, trumpets, trombones, and euphoniums reverberated for many years within the walls of The Citadel and marching down the streets of Murwillumbah. Now in the spirit of the early patrons of this building, we hope eclectic music, visual and performing arts will bring people together, in harmony and in unity once again.