Town features in Salvation Army riots film

THE INFAMOUS Salvation Army Riots which broke out in Eastbourne in the 1800s will be portrayed on the big screen in a new film project.

Marching to Music will recreate the time when the Salvation Army’s wish to continue playing music in the street on Sundays caused rioting in Eastbourne in defiance of the law.

The Salvation Army was at the centre of persecution across the country between 1890 and 1892 and it was on Whitsunday May 17, 1891, the riots broke out when the Salvation Army Band marched in the streets.

By playing their music they were deemed to be breaking a local by-law, which prohibited music in the streets of Eastbourne on Sunday.

Set in 1891-92, the film, being produced by the Riot Film Group, an amateur not-for-profit Eastbourne movie making group, tells the story of local fisherman and lifeboat man Tom Boniface and his pal Alf, who initially joined forces with the town’s mayor, the police, publicans, and others with vested interests to prevent the Salvation Army marching with music.

Eventually though, Tom, his brother Harry and Jess Huggett joined the Salvation Army and they would have to hold the door of the citadel against the rioting mobs.

In 1892 the victory was gained for the Army in the town in the early part of 1892 when the Eastbourne Corporation lost the by-law and had to pay all expenses.

Tom later went on to become the second coxswain of the Eastbourne Lifeboat and Jess the first coxswain.

The role of Tom Boniface is being played by actor Nick Moon.

Producer Malcom Webster said, “Actors from various local groups and societies have signed up, and a number of people and organisations are also supporting the project financially or in kind.”

The film is being shot at various locations around Eastbourne during the coming months and is expected to be completed by December of this year.

Mr Webster said he hoped the film would ultimately provide a valuable educational resource, adding to the growing film archive of Eastbourne and its history.

Any surplus monies raised in the process of making the film will be distributed equally between the Salvation Army and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Anyone wanting to know more about the venture or support it can contact Malcolm Webster on 769016 or by emailing Irene Graven at