Boys Brigade

The Boys Brigade is the oldest Christian uniformed organisation in the world.

Each week The Boys' Brigade works with thousands of young people, many of whom have no other connection with the Church. We have faith in young people and provide opportunities for children and young people to learn, grow and discover in a safe, fun and caring environment which is rooted in the Christian faith.

The Boys' Brigade provides a balanced programme of fun activities for children and young people from 5 to 18 years old. These resources have been developed to help volunteer youth leaders work in a relevant and creative way. We hope through these programmes they will be able to make a positive contribution to a young person's life and be able to share their faith.

Our work is split into age groups as follows:

For younger boys :

Anchors   Anchor Boys - for boys in P1 to P3 (min aged 5)

Juniors   Junior Section - for boys in P4 to P6


The Boys' Brigade - Under 11s from The Boys' Brigade on Vimeo.

For older boys :

Company   Company Section- for boys in P7 to S2

Seniors   Senior Section - for young men in S3 to S6

The Boys' Brigade - Over 11's from The Boys' Brigade on Vimeo.

Come and join in the adventure.

The first Boys' Brigade company was set up by Sir William Alexander Smith on 4 October, 1883, at Free Church Mission Hall, North Woodside Road, Glasgow, Scotland, to develop "Christian manliness" by the use of a semi-military discipline and order, gymnastics, summer camps, and religious services and classes.

In the years following the establishment of the 1st Glasgow company, others were rapidly formed throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK leading to a movement comprising thousands of boys.


By the early 20th century there were about 2,200 companies connected with different churches throughout the world, with 10,000 officers and 160,000 boys. Each company is normally affiliated to a battalion encompassing several nearby companies, which in turn are organised into districts and then to national level.

Being the earliest of all youth organizations, a simple rosette was worn as an identifying uniform, shortly being replaced by the simple use of a belt, haversack, and pillbox cap (a popular military cap of the day) worn over the boys' everyday clothing. The pillbox cap was used into the 1960s, long after it had fallen out of use in the British Army, when it was replaced with a field cap.

The movement also pioneered camping for leisure in Britain, previously rarely used outside the military. Early admirers of the Brigade included Robert Baden-Powell who as Vice President of the Boys' Brigade used it alongside initiatives in schools, particularly Eton, to promote the idea of scouting and outdoor pursuits based on those of the military for boys. At the time, he did not originally intend that any individual organization would later arise from this aim in the form of the various Boy Scouts movements. Early examples of Scouting were seen in Boys' Brigade Scouting awards and even specialised Boys' Brigade Scout sections who wore a blue uniform with shorts and the distinctive Smokey Bear hat traditionally identified with Scouts, and still worn today by drill sergeants in the United States Army. However, nowadays there is a certain friendly rivalry between the two groups.

The Boys' Life Brigade was one of many similar movements formed by the Boys' Brigade's influence, sometimes along denominational or religious lines, including the Church Lads' Brigade, the Jewish Lads' Brigade, or the Catholic Boys' Brigade. The merger also prompted the abandonment of dummy drill rifles that had been used in The Boys' Brigade, due to the Life Brigade's objection to use of weapons or their representations. For some time afterwards, the section covering members aged 8–12 years was known as Life Boys, before being restyled as the Junior section.

Source - "The Boys' Brigade" - Wikipedia

Key Dates
1854 - William Alexander Smith born (27th October)
1883 - BB Founded in Glasgow (4th October)
1886 - First BB Camp (Tignabruaich)
1908 - Scout Movement Formed (by Baden Powell, developed from the BB)
1907 - 44th Aberdeen BB founded at Mannofield, Aberdeen
1909 - William Alexander Smith knighted (July)
1914 - Sir William Alexander Smith died (10th May)
1917 - Boy Reserves started
1926 - Amalgamation of The Boys' Brigade with The Boys' Life Brigade
1933 - Jubilee Celebrations
1976 - World Conference (of The Boys' Brigade) formed
1983 - Centenary Celebrations
1993 - Junior Section 75th Anniversary (previously called 'Life Boys')
2002 - World Conference renamed to Global Fellowship of Christian Youth
2004 - 150th Anniversary of the Founder's birth
2007 - 44th Aberdeen celebrate its Centenary
2008 - 125th Anniversary of The Boys' Brigade



The founder of the Boys' Brigade movement was Sir William Alexander Smith. He was born on the 27th October 1854 in Pennyland House, Thurso, in the North of Scotland. He joined the volunteers and at the age of 19, while working in his uncle's business in Glasgow became Lance Corporal in the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers.

By 1883 William Smith had become a Lieutenant and was teaching in the North Woodside Mission Sunday School. The boys in his Sunday School class were a challenge and they had no discipline. He was open to suggestions. Someone suggested that the methods used in the volunteers may be appropriate. He took this idea further and the BB was formed.

The Boys' Brigade was officially formed on 4th October 1883 and was a tremendous success. Other youth organisations resulted from the formation Boys' Brigade, most notably the Scout movement in 1908.

In July 1909 William Smith was knighted by King Edward VII for his services to boys.

He died on May 10th 1914 after being taken ill at a Boys' Brigade meeting in London.