New HQ for Sheringham Salvation Army

An historic church army unit has moved into new 'barracks' after an 11-month rebuild.

And Sheringham's Salvation Army's new citadel shows it is marching into the modern world, as well as retaining its timbrel-shaking traditions.

The new �1.3m headquarters has a 260-seater hall which has large flat screen televisions which will show hymn words, consigning old fashioned hymn books to history.

The purpose-built complex at Cremer Street also has a hi-tech sound system, extra meeting rooms, improved kitchen, disabled toilets, lifts and a shower.

It will enable the army to host bigger congregations, expand the scope of its work and revive its luncheon club.

Corps Sgt Major Veronica Williamson said they had outgrown the former 12-year-old hall which was also 'past its sell by date'.

The mish-mash of rooms, including a smaller 180-seater hall, smelled of damp and had crumbling plasterwork.

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'These new up to date facilities will make a world of difference and give us a whole new outlook, while also doing our traditional things,' she added.

The Salvation Army is part of Sheringham's history, interwoven with its seafaring heritage, as the local fishermen brought back the mission idea after visiting Grimsby. The first meeting hall was in an old boathouse on lifeboat plain, before the Cremer Street base was first crated 123 years ago.

Parts of the old hall have been carried into the new one - with the main cross on the wall made from the former 'mercy seat' or altar. One of the stained glass porthole windows will also be used as a decorative light catcher in the entrance.

The building has been paid for by a combination of a �200,000 grant from the Bradbury Trust, legacies, pledges from members and local fund-raising over the past seven years.

While it was 'homeless' during building work, the corps has been based at the local high school, but had to curtail some of its work.

Major Alan Read who arrived to run the local corps a month ago with wife Carolyn, said: 'This provides a lovely opportunity to look at the way we do things, and do more work in the community.'

The new hall was used for the first time this weekend, and will host the main carol service on December 19 at 6pm.

An official opening will be done by the Salvation Army's top national officer Territorial Commander John Matear on February 12.