This monumental Grade II listed college with massive brick tower gives commanding views to the City and Docklands.
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott,
Education, Museum, Religious
The Salvation Army's William Booth College was founded for the exclusive purpose of training men and women students, known as cadets, for full time service as officers in the The Salvation Army. Those who graduate from the college provide a constant revitalisation and re-staffing of The Salvation Army for both its evangelical and social work.
The present college building was built as a memorial to William Booth, the Founder of The Salvation Army. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect of Liverpool Cathedral and opened by His Royal Highness Prince George, later the Duke of Kent, on 8 July 1929. William Booth College has recently undergone a substantial refurbishment programme, the largest since the opening in 1929.
The site was deliberately chosen by The Salvation Army in order that the college should be a prominent landmark at Denmark Hill, South East London. The college campus, which at one time housed the hunting lodge of the Prince of Denmark (hence Denmark Hill) spreads over some 7½ acres of grass and gardens with numerous trees, creating a rural sanctuary close to the heart of the capital.
Sir Giles was asked to prepare a scene of monumental character and semi-military style symbolic of The Salvation Army's work and part of the scheme included a 190 foot tower that would 'rise as high as the cross on St Paul's'. Inside the tower are two empty chambers: one has thirty foot slits (like a mediaeval fort), while the upper chamber had a vaulted space with rounded slits. The view over London is spectacular.
There is some stonework in the form of Gothic decorations on the facade but the building is mainly of Dutch bricks which are slightly smaller than the English equivalent. On the entrance floor is a marble mosaic of The Salvation Army's crest or logo and the two brass lanterns outside reflect the crown symbol of that emblem. The lift is elegant – this and the interior are often used in film production. Statues of William, after whom the college is named, and Catherine Booth, founders of The Salvation Army grace the entrance of the college.