New Salvation Army building in Sheringham officially opened

After nearly a year of having to take services in a high school a Salvation Army group have been able to officially open their new headquarters in Sheringham.

The occasion was marked on Saturday with the Salvation Army Band playing under the town clock, and an open air service, before people were invited into the new building itself in Cremer Street.

The Salvation Army's top national officer Territorial Commander John Matear also visited the town to mark the opening of the group's new building.

The �1.3m headquarters has a 260-seater hall which has large flat screen televisions which show hymn words and it also has a hi-tech sound system, extra meeting rooms, improved kitchen, disabled toilets, lifts and a shower.

The hope is the new building, which 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, will enable the army to host bigger congregations, expand the scope of its work and revive its luncheon club.

Major Alan Read, who arrived to run the Sheringham corps at the end of last year with wife Carolyn, said: 'We have been using the building since the end of December and we are absolutely thrilled with it. It is lovely and warm and has a welcoming feeling.

'Today is about letting people know how pleased we are with the new building and letting them join in the celebration.'

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As well as the official opening ceremony on Saturday, there was also a celebration festival in the evening, featuring the Salvation Army band, songsters and guest soloists.

Commissioner Matear said; 'This is a great day that has long been anticipated and is the result of a lot of endeavour. It is a privilege being here and being part of this.'

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.

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 has also been used as a decorative light catcher in the entrance.

Plans have been put forward for the formation of a car parking area in Co-Operative Street, Sheringham, to serve the new hall.

The site is presently not in use, and was purchased by the Sheringham branch of the Salvation Army in 1990, with a view to turning it into two cottages with garages.

However, the branch have now agreed that the site would be better used as a car park for officers and volunteers, so as to reduce the problems of on-street parking, and have now submitted a planning application to North Norfolk District Council, which is currently under consultation.