Jonathan: Boys' Brigade (1970s)

Figure 1.--Here we are in our Boys' Brigade uniforms during 1972. We were ages 11, 12, and 13 years old. I'm in the middle. Note I don't have the proper jumper and my white belt yet. I rrally wanted the proper jumper at the time.

We didn't join the Boy Scouts. We did, however, join the Boys' Brigade. That is a youth group similar to the Scouts, but more religiously oeiented. British readers will know about the Boys' Brigade, but I don't think they are very well known in America. The church we went to didn't have any youth groups attached. When I was in the first year of the infants, about 6 years old, I went to someting called "Cabin Boys" at a local Baptist Church All four of us participated. And we all enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately we had to stoped going because they moved the meetings to a Salbatuion Army hall that was too distant.

Cabin Boys

The church we went to didn't have any youth groups attached. When I was in the first year of the infants, about 6 years old, I went to someting called "Cabin Boys" at a local Baptist Church, where a great aunt of mine was one of the leaders. One of my brothers came too. I think this was the entry level of the Boys Brigade and the same church still has a very successful and traditional Girls Brigade.

Anchor Boys

When I became too old for Cabin Boys, however, I didn't go up to the next stage which I think may have been called Anchor Boys (I'm not sure, and I don't know why we left).

Junior Level

Fast-forward now to ten years old. We had just moved to a new house in another part of town and two of my older brothers started attending the senior Boys Brigade at a local methodist church. wanted to go as well - I think I rather liked the look of the Thunderbirds hats that were part of the uniform! I wasn't old enough, but they found out that there was a Junior Boys Brigade which met on another evening. I can still remember my dad taking me along. It was a grand old building; we went in a rear door and started walking around corridors, full of the smell of old wood when we saw a man in a uniform and a strange hat with a bit dangling off the back of it. It turned out he was the leader and he'd just popped out of the hall where all the other boys were to fetch something. He and dad had a brief conversation and a few minutes later I was in my first night at BB! I continued going and remember wanting to have the same uniform as everyone else. I was so pleased when I got the hat after a couple of weeks.


The jumper you see me wearing was the right colour, navy blue. But it was not the proper BB jumper (a crew neck with an anchor logo on it). I really wanted the right jumper like everyone else, but mum thought it wasn't worth the money as I already had a navy blue jumper which was similar. But it wasn't the same!!! It had a zip-up neck. I think the leaders even asked me a few times when I'd be getting the proper jumper. I think some boys wore long trousers and some, probably most, wore shorts. I think they wore whatever trousers they wore to school and at the time most local juniors insisted on shorts. When I was 10 and in the BB I thought my uniform looked much better than cub uniforms. But looking at this picture I'm embarrassed at what I shambles I look compared with the pictures you see of the smart uniforms cubs were wearing at that time.


I really enjoyed BB, and even got to go on a couple of trips with my brothers because the leaders felt sorry for me being left out when they were going on trips with the senior section. The junior BB leader was a quiet man who seemed to really like me. However...... there was a bit of a sad end to our BB careers. The church was about to be demolished and rebuilt as part of a new shopping complex, which would take several years. In the meantime, it would join with another Methodist church right on the other side of town. At first, the BB meetings moved to a local Salvation Army hall, which was fine. But then they moved to this other Methodist Church and mum wouldn't let us go in the dark winter evenings. When summer came, we wanted to start BB again. We cycled over to find out about rejoining and one of the BB leaders, who was a really miserable bloke, met us at the door and said no. He gave us a lecture saying "you can't just come when you feel like it and then not come and then come again..." We were so disappointed. We tried to explain that we hadn't been allowed to go in winter because it was a long journey from home, but he wouldn't listen and just told us to clear off. If any of the other leaders had come to the door, it would have been different. They were all really nice.. it was just bad luck that Mr Miseryguts met us. Anyway, it wasn't long before we were moving to Belgium, so it didn't really make a lot of difference in the end.

Youth Groups Today

Both the Scouts and the BB and Girls Brigade are sending out orders telling all groups to start going co-ed. The scouts have set a deadline of 2007, their Centenary. Friends of mine with daughters in the Girls Brigade are furious and other friends involved in scouting are furious too.

Author: Jonathan


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Created: 9:54 PM 9/24/2005
Last updated: 9:54 PM 9/24/2005