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Interesting facts

1900 - The world’s first feature film

The Salvation Army is credited with producing the world's first moving picture film.

Operating from 1897 to 1910, The Salvation Army Limelight Department was Australia’s first film production company. Among its many achievements, The Limelight Department is credited with producing the world’s first multimedia presentation using the moving picture film technology of the day. The film, ‘Soldiers of the Cross’, was produced during 1900 and the Limelight Department also recorded the birth of the nation at Federation in 1901.

The meaning behind SAO biscuits

It is thought that the name of the popular biscuit by Arnotts, SAO, stands for ‘Salvation Army Officer’. This theory arose from the fact that Arthur Arnott, one of five sons of William Arnott (company founder), was a Colonel in The Salvation Army.

Strawberry Field Forever

The Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever ” was named after a Salvation Army children’s home where John Lennon used to play as a child. According to The Telegraph in London (14 January, 2005), Lennon lived around the corner from The Salvation Army's Strawberry Field children's home in Menlove Avenue, Woolton.

As a child growing up in the 1950s, he used to squeeze through the home’s tall, wrought iron gates and play in the grounds with some of the orphans who lived there. He is believed to have felt a kinship with them after he was abandoned by his father and sent by his mother, Julia, to live with his Aunt.

Strawberry Field opened in 1936 and helped generations of children towards adulthood. Lennon recalled his fond childhood memories in his song Strawberry Fields Forever, released as a double A-side with Penny Lane in February 1967. According to The Telegraph, Lennon even left money to the home in his will, and in 1984 his widow, Yoko Ono, gave more than £50,000 towards its upkeep.

But a change in the way orphans are cared for led to the closure in January 2005, with the preference now being to care for children within foster families or small group homes, rather than within large residential institutions.

Australia had the world’s first social programme

In 1883, Major James Barker led the way to establish the first Salvation Army social institution anywhere in the world on a permanent basis, known as the "Prison Gate" programme.

Barker saw that prisoners being released from the Melbourne Gaol had nowhere to go and no work, so they inevitably re-offended and returned to gaol. Barker leased a small house in Lygon Street, Carlton, to provide accommodation for prisoners discharged from Melbourne's gaols. This led to the formation of the Prison-Gate Brigade, the members of which met discharged prisoners upon their release and offered them a home and the prospect of a job.

The Salvation Army started in a graveyard

When Booth found himself without a church to preach in, he became a travelling preacher, spreading Christianity wherever he could and on the streets. In 1865, he was invited to preach in London's East End and was provided with a piece of land on which to preach, which just so happened to be situated in a graveyard.

Despite the melancholy surroundings, the graveyard sermons became a big success and the location became the first Salvationists' base of operations, providing an unlikely point of origin.

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The Salvation Army acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.

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