The Campfield Musical Instrument Works
Information provided by William Scarlett, Chicago, USA
In May of 1889 The Salvation Army opened a brass instrument repair shop at International HQ with 2 experienced brass instrument workers and one 16 year old boy. Within a few years the shop began to make some instruments with parts bought from other makers. In 1893 the shop made its first complete cornet and called the models, "Our Own Make", followed by "Triumph" models in 1896.
By 1896 the shop could make all of the brass band instruments. General William Booth required that all Salvation Army bands buy their instruments from this growing factory. The number of workers increased plus the factory location was moved several times in the 1890s for more space to make instruments. The Salvation Army established a real factory, the Campfield Musical Instrument Works, in 1901 in St Albans, north of London, which was used until the factory closed.
The factory only produced the instruments normally found in a British-type brass band, although in the early years it also made pocket Bb cornets and a patented Eb bass trombone. Besides the main models "Our Own Make", "Triumph", "Triumphonic" and "Bandmaster", there were other models made for youth bands or special reasons that existed for short periods.
William Booth wanted The Salvation Army to produce whatever The Salvation Army used in its work. When he started to use brass bands, their mission was to attract crowds on the street corners and to assist in the services. Sometimes these corners were hostile and band members and their instrument were treated roughly. Salvation Army instruments were made with thicker metal to better withstand this abuse and heavier silver plating was applied on the surface to last longer.
The factory was always behind in filling orders for the Salvation Army bands which were all over the world, and it is not likely that they sold instruments outside of The Salvation Army. However, a former factory worker reported that after WWII, they made a number of basses for the Royal Air Force. In the early 20th century there were many endorsements in print by various Salvation Army players. They would say how easy the instruments were to play, how good they were, etc. The factory produced about 34,000 instruments in 83 years.
After WWII the commercial makers of brass instruments modernized their factories and equipment. The Salvation Army did not choose to follow. The commercial makers could make instruments better and cheaper and The Salvation Army slowly slipped behind the market. In the 1960's the factory began losing money because of this situation. The factory in St. Albans closed in 1972 although, by agreement, Boosey and Hawkes continued to make the "Bandmaster" cornet and "Triumphonic" tenor horn for The Salvation Army until 1979.