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Stitch in Time

Stitch in Time

In part two of our three-part series, we continue to see the development of an early Salvation Army archive and research centre, and the efforts of Nola Bradwell and her husband Cyril to establish this, as told in her daughter’s book The crafts of cloth, needle and thread: Nola’s story (abridged).

In an undated letter around 1988–89, Nola made clear that until permanent space was allocated, establishing the archive as a functioning research centre was impossible. Nola reported this more bluntly than Cyril’s telling of the story in [his book] Touched with Splendour:

Dad and the Historical Trust are pushing for space and consideration to be given for the archives in the planned new Army THQ. They have almost got the go-ahead from the Council. At times Dad has been disappointed at the Army’s attitude about these matters, but on Friday Laurence Hay and Dad had another interview with the Territorial Commander and he has agreed for them to get an experienced person to advise them on how to start to set things up and what would be required.

In the event, specialist space with archival shelving was provided in the new THQ building in Cuba Street, encouraging, too, the donation of many more items and documents. In an undated letter in 1990 Nola explains that one of the reasons they are delaying their planned overseas travel is because ‘Dad wants to be in Wellington to help Laurence Hay get the Army’s archival centre functioning afer all the pushing for it. He wants to see it WORKING!’

There was also specialist training because Nola reports in a letter c.1991 that, ‘I’ve spent Friday night and all Saturday at an archives textiles seminar. I found it most interesting and learnt a lot. Laurence Hay was there also. The Army paid my expenses.’

Laurence recalls attending a number of courses on various aspects of archiving and preservation during this time, as did Cyril.

After returning from some international travels in 1992, Cyril reports on several Salvation Army archive centres they had visited, noting too how pleased they were to be home and resuming their work at the archive:

Nola, assisted valiantly by Marjorie Goffin, was able to extend and consolidate the work she had been doing for some years in building up a wide-ranging display of Salvation Army uniforms covering various eras, ranks and types. Nola’s remarkable tailoring skills were invaluable in the achievement of a uniform collection superior to anything I have seen in other Army heritage centres throughout the world.

Retired Mrs Commissioner Marjorie Goffin and her husband Dean Goffin were long-time friends of Cyril and Nola. After Commissioner Goffin’s death Marjorie had, in my father’s words, ‘deposited a treasure trove of correspondence, music manuscripts and miscellaneous papers, photographs and other memorabilia’ in the archive. She also volunteered to work with Nola.

A visit to the archive by the international leader of The Salvation Army, General Eva Burrows, in 1993, was photographed. Undoubtedly she was shown Nola’s uniform and paraphernalia collections. Burrows’ interest in the archive was long standing. On a visit to New Zealand for its Salvation Army Centennial in 1983 when Eva Burrows was Commissioner for the Australian state of New South Wales, she asked to meet Nola and Cyril to discuss the Historical Trust. Taking documents and ideas back to Melbourne, she set immediately about establishing a heritage centre there.

Print copy can be purchased for $10.00 by sending an email to: [email protected]; or print for free from the Archives website:

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