English Boys' Youth Group Uniforms

Figure 1.--After Scouting was founded the younger boys clammered to join. As a result in 1916 the English Scouts founded Cubbing in 1916. The English Cub uniform was very influential with other Scout associations which also began a Cub program in their country.

Uniformed youth groups were a limited succes at first, but this changed quickly after the appearance of Scouting in the 1900s. The Boys' Brigade was the first such group which appeared in the 1880s. Quite a number of other grouos were organized. In the 1900s these groups were surpased by the Scouts. Baden Powell first conceived of Scouting as a element of the Boys' Brigade. English boys, however, were attraccted by the outdoor activities and the more secular approach. Scouting was organized as a separate group and soon became the predominate youth organization in England. Unlike some other youth groups, Baden Powel promoted an internationist approach and the movement began to spread around the world. Interestingly only one Scout association was organized in England, unlike the European pattern where Scout associations were organized by different religions and secular groups. Also political parties did not organize nationalist youth groups as proved to be the case in Germany and other European countries.

Boys' Brigade

The Boys' Brigade is a Christian organisation for boys aged between 6 and 18 years and is the oldest uniformed youth organisation in the world, being founded in Glasgow, Scotland during 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith. While founded in Scotland, the organization expaned extensively in England. While the Boys' Brigade now exists in many different countries, the center of the organization continues to be England.

Boys Guide Brigade

E.P. Carter founded the Boys Guide Brigade in 1902. He informed Baden Powell of this. It was a few years before Powell founded British Scouting. The group served as the basis for the South African chapter of the South African British Boy Scouts. Carter refused to unite with Baden Powell's Scouts after the BBS collapsed ans instead renamed his group the Sea Cadets.

Boys' Life Brigade

HBU has seen references to the British Boys' Life Brigade (BLB) which was apparently founded in 1899. The BLB broke away from the Boys' Brigade because of concern with their overly milataristic approach. The BLB in 1910 arranged an alliance with the British Boy Scouts to form the National Peace Scouts. After the collapse of the BBS the question of union with the Boys Brigade was discussed beginning in 1913--but a dozen years were to pass before this effort would be successful.

Boy Scouts

Scouting began in England during 1907 and was based on Robert S.S. Baden-Powell's ideas and book Scouting for Boys. The book and program proved to have universal appeal for boys and quickly spread worldwide. Some aspects of the program vary around the world, but the principles of the Scout Promise and Law unite the world brotherhood of Scouting and prepare boys for adulthood in today's world. As a youth, Robert Baden-Powell greatly enjoyed the outdoors, learning about nature and how to live in the wilderness. After returning as a military hero from service in Africa, Baden-Powell discovered that English boys were reading the manual on stalking and survival in the wilderness he had written for his military regiment. Gathering ideas from Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, and others, he rewrote the manual as a nonmilitary nature skill book and called it Scouting for Boys. To test his ideas, Baden-Powell brought together 22 boys to camp at Brownsea Island, off the coast of England. This historic campout was a success and resulted in the advent of Scouting. Thus, the imagination and inspiration of Baden-Powell, later proclaimed Chief Scout of the World, brought Scouting to youth the world over. Besides the mainland Scouts there have also been the British Boy Scouts, British Pathfinder Scouts Association, British Scout Federation, Baden Powell Scouts, the Federation of European Scouts UK Association, and other associations.

Cadet Program

Cadet training in British schools began in the 1860s. The idea was to provude some basic mikitary training for teenagers. A few would go on to Sanhurst, but most would serve in the military as officers only in case of a military emergecy. Originally it was an army program. The usual reason advanced was fear of a French invasion. France especially under a new Bonaparte emperor (Napoleon III) was was still perceived as the principal enemy. Rossall School in Lancashire lays claim to the honor of establishing the first school cadet corps. Many of the first schools to have cadet programs were the public schools (private secondary) schools. Gradually orograms were fiunded for the other services.

Church Lads Brigade

We have little information on the Church Lads' Brigade. We believe that it was similar the Boys' Brigade, but with an Anglican (Church of England) affiliation. The Church Lads' Brigade is a uniformed Anglican youth group offering fun and fellowship within the Church for boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 21. The group was founded in 1890, in part because of the popularity of non-denominatipnal Boys' Brigade. There is also a Church Girls' Brigade. The Group is a parish-based, primarily English group. Units are organized throughout England, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. There are also has overseas units in several scattered British Empire countries: Barbados, Bermuda, Canada (Newfoundland), Kenya, Saint Helena, and South Africa. The Brigade's objective is to extend the Kingdom of Christ among boys and girls and to encourage faithful membership of the Church of England or other episcopal churches in communion with the Church of England by bringing them together in groups organised for religious, educational and recreational purposes.

Kibbo Kift

Life Pioneers

Nationalist Groups

HBU has little information about nationalist English youth groups. We know of no really important groups. I think there have been realtively few, in part because of the importance of Scouting and the Boys' Brigade. An exception was Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. I believe the small Mosley English-NAZI group tried to organize a youth movement, but it was of no real importance. They may have had a small youth group, but HBU has no details and doubts if it was of any importance. Not all Nationalist groups have been sinister groups like Mosley's Fascists. We note a few small, mostly loval groups. A least one modern group, the Rangers, have been formed because of the middle-class orientation and complicated beauracracy of Scouting. There appear to be a few indepenbdent nationalist groups, but the number of boys was very limited.

The Order of Woodcraft Chivalry

The Outlanders


HBU has noted an English uniformed youth group known as the Rangers or Pheoneix Rangers. We do not yet know much about the group whih appears to be a relatively new organization.

Red Cross Society

The Red Cross had a junior division. We have been unanle to find much information about the British Junior Red Cross (BJRC)s. It appears to have been a school-based group. It was the children's branch of the Red Cross Organisation, a world-wide organization. It is a voluntary, non-governmental, non-political, non- sectarian and international in character. The goals are to promotion of health, personal hygiene, school hygiene and community hygiene. Service to others especially in relation to health. And promotion of fellowship among, and friendly helpfulness towards, other young people of all countries. A Junior Red Cross Society helps put up posters and charts. They may stage health plays. The members of the Junior Red Cross Society assist the medical officer at the time of medical inspection of the students. Usually a Junior Red Cross Society mintain a small dispensary and a library containing books dealing with health and disease. Usually the members take Red Cross First Aid students and help to populrize the courses with other students. As Best we can tell the BJRC was more popular in the 20th than the 21st century.

St. John Ambulance Cadets

British readers have mentioned the St. John Ambulance Caders, but we currently have no information on this group.

Salvation Army

HBC has received reports of a junior division to the Salvation Army in England. We do not know at this time if there were junior divisions in other countries as well. In the early years of Scouting, the Salvation Army actually sponsored Scout Groups.

Woodcraft Folk


In the early years of Scouting, the YMCA also also sponsored Scout Groups.


"General Service Training, Section 1 - The Air Training Corps", Air Cadet Publication No. 31 (Lincolnshire: Air Cadet Organization, 2000).

Ministry of Defence (MOD). "About Defence - What we do - Reserve Forces and Cadets - DRFC - History of the Cadet Forces" (Ministry of Defence).


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Created: September 8, 2000
Last updated: 1:08 AM 2/24/2019