My Home Town
Brighton Congress Hall
by Mike Alliston
My paternal grandmother was an attendee at the Brighton Congress Hall Salvation Army Sunday school in the 1880s and my research is all about the life of the Salvation Army in Brighton during the life of their enormous building, 1883-2000. Originally it seated 3,500 for services and was the largest public building in Brighton.
My parents were Salvationists so my memories go back to the 1950s and many of the names and families I remember.
One newspaper report has really stuck in my head. In 1922 the Brighton Congress Hall Salvation Army put on a tea for poor children. Doubtless all within walking distance because poverty wouldn't have covered bus fares - but 1,100 children came, were fed and entertained and then sent home, each with an orange. I really can't get my head around that. It paints a picture that is beyond imagination today, doesn't it?
Within my own family WW2 hit hard. Brighton Congress Hall made a big event of it all - at the town WW1 memorial on Remembrance Sunday morning with the band of 50, even in my lifetime, marching the British Legion with hundreds lining the streets. In the afternoon, there was a full Salvation Army march up to the Brighton cemeteries - usually around 400 plus of us, to lay wreaths at the various memorials and then in the evening, a wreath-laying in our own building. A cenotaph was erected with lawns and earth beds where folk could plant crosses for their lost family members and then after the Last Post etc, hundreds poppies fell from the roof .
The photos below help tell the story of the Brighton Congress Hall.
Remembered Salvation Army 1939-1945
(Please click a name on the memorial or on icon below for further Information)
William Walter Martin - Royal Air Force
Bernard Railton. Alliston - Royal Artillery
George James Bentinck - Royal Army Service Corps
Percival Charles Herbert Acton - Royal Navy
Valentine Turner - Royal Air Force
Percy Samuel Roberts - Royal Army Service Corps
Horace Sidney Norman - Royal Navy
Walter Dudley Redford - 4th Dorset
Bramwell Herbert Alliston - Royal Engineers