Bay Sally Army hero's return captured in painting

Painting of train and Sally Army hero

The hero returns... - Credit: Martin Robins

The great grandson of a Salvation Army hero has had a painting of him specially commissioned which has now been accepted to hang in the Devon Heritage Centre.

Martin Robins’ painting features his great grandfather William Robins’ arrival back at Torre Station having been imprisoned for breaching laws banning marching on Saturdays.

His was sentenced to seven days in Exeter Prison from Tuesday to Tuesday.

But he was released three days early, ironically to perform the next day the very crime he was imprisoned for marching.

Martin explained: “Three Salvation Army bands welcomed him and his cell mate and the whole day was devoted to celebrations- no drink of course.

“The engine is running on broad gauge and hails from Carmarthen.

“Torre Station has never seen such a day - before or since.

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“We have shown the Exeter Prison Governor travelling incognito, he was mystified by all the fuss.”

Martin has already published the tale of William’s arrest which was previously featured in Torbay Weekly.

William was arrested in 1886 as he marched with the Salvation Army band from the Citadel to an open air service at the harbour.

A plaque, commissioned by his family, was unveiled two years ago marking the spot at the inner harbour.

But the booklet tells the story of his ancestor’s determination.

The title Bound To Win The War is taken from a Salvation Army song demonstrating their strength and that they would not be defeated.

Martin explained that in 1886 the Torquay and District Harbour Act included a clause banning marching on Sundays.

William, who in court after his arrest described himself as a drunkard and a waster, credited joining the Salvation Army for turning his life around.

Martin said: “The story has been a bit lost in the mists of time but I think what my great grandfather and the other marchers did was remarkable.

“They put their personal freedom and welfare behind their faith.

“I feel very proud of him, he wasn’t making great statements but was determined to exercise his right to practice his faith.”