In these Works all sorts of articles are manufactured to be used by other branches of the Salvation Army. Thus I saw poultry-houses being made for the Boxted Small Holdings; these cost from L4 5_s._ to L4 10_s._ net, and were excellent structures designed to hold about two dozen fowls. Further on large numbers of seats of different patterns were in process of manufacture, some of them for children, and other longer ones, with reversible backs, to be used in the numerous Army halls. Next I visited a room in which mattresses and mattress covers are made for the various Shelters, also the waterproof bunk bedding, which costs 7_s._ 9_d._ per cover. Further on, in a separate compartment, was a flock-tearing machine, at which the Mormon I have mentioned was employed. This is a very dusty job whereat a man does not work for more than one day in ten.
Then there were the painting and polishing-room, the joinery room, and the room where doors, window frames, and articles of furniture are constructed; also special garden benches, cleverly planned so that the seat can be protected from rain. These were designed by a young lady whom I chance to know in private life, and who, as I now discovered for the first time, is also a member of the Salvation Army.
Such is the Hanbury Street Workshop, where the Army makes the best use it can of rather indifferent human materials, and, as I have said, loses money at the business.
This branch of the Men’s Social Work of the Salvation Army is a home for poor and destitute boys. The house, which once belonged to the late Dr. Barnardo, has been recently hired on a short lease. One of the features of the Army work is the reclamation of lads, of whom about 2,400 have passed through its hands in London during the course of the last eight years.
Sturge House has been fitted up for this special purpose, and accommodates about fifty boys. The Officer in charge informed me that some boys apply to them for assistance when they are out of work, while others come from bad homes, and yet others through the Shelters, which pass on suitable lads. Each case is strictly investigated when it arrives, with the result that about one-third of their number are restored to their parents, from whom often enough they have run away, sometimes upon the most flimsy pretexts.
Not unfrequently these boys are bad characters, who tell false tales of their past. Thus, recently, two who arrived at the Headquarters at Whitechapel, alleged that they were farm-labourers from Norfolk. As they did not in the least look the part, inquiries were made, when it was found that they had never been nearer to Norfolk than Hampstead, where both of them had been concerned in the stealing of L10 from a business firm. The matter was patched up with the intervention of the Army, and the boys were restored to their parents.