The Salvation Army had a seminal link with Tasmania. Launceston businessman and philanthropist Henry Reed, living in London, gave William Booth over £5000 to establish the Salvation Army on a firm footing in about 1870. In 1883 the Salvation Army Launceston Corps began operating, and corps were formed in Hobart, Latrobe, Waratah and other towns. Marches by these 'militant servants of Christ' through the two main cities with loud music attracted the larrikin element or 'roughs', who exploded flour bombs in the Salvationists' faces or threw mud and beer. Some Salvationists were arrested for marching without permission or refusing to desist from making excessive noise, but the 1891 visit of General Booth ensured the success of the Salvationists. They worked in gaols and courts, and their social work included managing child endowment, running soup kitchens in the winter and during depressions, and distributing clothes. Maternity hospitals were opened in Hobart (1897) and Launceston for unmarried mothers and other young women 'to whom life had been unkind'. During the Second World War Salvationists ministered to the troops in military camps, organised community singing among rural workers, and, in Hobart and Launceston, opened accommodation for women.
After 1945 the Salvation Army responded to new social problems by extending its services into assisting the homeless, missing persons, drug, gambling and alcohol abuse, disability and migrant services, employment and aged accommodation, and helped in emergencies like the 1967 bushfires. The annual Red Shield doorknock began in 1971 and raises much-needed funds. (See also Philanthropy.)
Further reading: C Beasley (ed), Launceston citadel no. 1. Corps, Launceston, 1983; B Bolton, Booth's drum, Sydney, 1980; Salvation Army, Tasmanian centennial celebration 1883-1983, Waterloo, 1983.