Boys' Brigade Uniforms: Scotland

Figure 1.--This painting pictures recruiting for the Boys Brigade in Scotland. It was probably painted in the 1890s. Note the boy at the keft wearing a red kilt with his uniform. Also notice a new boy with a non-uniform flat cap is talking to the officer wearing a Glengarry.

Thee goal of the New Zealand Boys' Brigade is Developing Christian Lifeskills through a Children's and Youth Ministry within Churches in Austraklia. This is achieved through a programme that focus's on enhancement of Boys' Spiritual, Physical, adventure, Community and Personal Interests.


The Boys' Brigade was founded in Scotland.


The Boys Brigade fostered many Scout-like activities, but with a stronger Christian focus.


Boys Brigade uniform garments in Scotland, as in other countries, have varied over time. The pill box cap was popular in the early years as were military-like belts and white shoulder straps. Officers wore the Glengarry. The boys seem to have often worn caps and belts with their regular suits, including kneepants, knicker, short pants, and long pants suits. Some boys wore kilts instead of trousers, although we are uncertain how popular this option was. We are unsure when the familiar blue uniform and forage cap was first introduved. The Glengaary was adopted for the officers cap. Although, their uniform head-dress has changed somewhat over the decades, the Glengarry has not changed from its position as an officers cap/hat since the Brigade was founded. [A.L. Smith]



Boys in the 1890s appear to have worn their regular suits and added a blue pill-box cap and white belts with shoulder harnessess. Some boys wore kilts instead of trousers and can be seen on this page (figure 1). There may have been differences among units. We do not know just what the official uniform was. The Glengarry was worn by officers/leaders (both warrant and lieutentants) of the Boy's Brigade when in uniform. The founder, Sir William Alexander Smith (a Scot himself, and born in Thurso, Scotland) adopted it for the officers uniform, but not the kilt, for the Boy's Brigade when it was founded in Glasgow during 1883. When the Boy's Brigade spread to England, officers also adopted the Glengarry. The Glengarry has not changed from its position as an officers cap/hat since the Brigade was founded. [A.L. Smith]

The 1940s

A Scottish contributor offered the following details on his uniform during the 1940s. At some point when I was at Primary School, I can't remember what age but I would suspect around 9 or 10, I joined the Boys Brigade. I really enjoyed it during the time that I was in. We dressed in our grey short pants, grey socks, shirt and I think I had a navy blue jersey around d the waist of which we wore the Boys Brigade Belt which had a chunky buckle on it with an anchor engraved on it. Across my lefts shoulder I wore a white cloth strap which had a message pouch. You put the belt over the strap so the pouch hung under the belt and on the right of your body. To complete the ensemble so to speak, I wore a navy blue pill box hat that had white piping on it and the number "1" which was the battalion I belonged to. We did all kinds of marching, camping, various activities and my favourite, parades where we got to march as a body. On church parades I wore my kilt with the same accoutrements. I sometimes played the drum in the pipe band but had trouble keeping the beat.

The 1970s

The campaign cap was adopted by the boys of the organization in the late 1960s or early 70s. Also adopted were dark blue shorts and matching short and long trousers.


Smith, Adam L. E-mail message, October 6, 2003.


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Created: January 15, 2000
Last updated: October 9, 2003