The Boys' Brigade Australia

Successfully operating youth work programs for 125 years.


How it all Began

gallery/Web_Pages/images/158_1151127766.gifIn 1883 in Glasgow, Scotland, a young Sunday School teacher, whose name was William Alexander Smith, was very worried that the Boys in his Sunday School class couldn?t seem to settle down enough for him to teach them about Jesus and  how to be better people.
On Saturdays Mr Smith was an Officer in the Volunteers (like our Army Reserves today) and could get many men to do exactly as he wanted when he drilled them, but on Sundays he struggled to get the Boys to settle down and work together. Then one day he had an idea. If the Boys in the Sunday School were as well trained and behaved like his Volunteers through doing drill and other things, then he would be able to teach them how to get more out of life.

So The Boys? Brigade was started and the first meeting was held on the 4th October, 1883. Boys enjoyed it so much, that soon other Companies were formed in Scotland and then spread to the rest of the world. But this movement was for Boys who were between 12 and 17, mainly because it was the age group that Mr Smith had in his Sunday School class.

When Mr. Smith, who was later knighted and became Sir William Smith, started the Boys? Brigade he chose as its emblem an Anchor and for its motto the words "Sure and Stedfast."

A few years later another organisation was begun in England and it was called "The Boys? Life Brigade," which had as its emblem a Red Cross.

In 1926 both these organisations joined together and in addition they joined their emblems.

Younger Boys of course wanted to be part of BB also and do similar exciting activities. In September, 1917, a man called Carey Longmore, who was the Captain of the 1st Warley (Essex, England) B.B. Company, started a junior branch of his Company and these young Boys were called "The Boy Reserves." The Boys? Life Brigade also had a junior branch called "The Lifeboys".

When the B.B. and the B.L.B. joined together as one organisation in 1926 it was decided to keep the name "The Boys? Brigade," and it was also agreed that the name of the junior branch should be "The Life Boys"?spelt in three words. From 1926 to 1966 that was how the names remained, but it was then agreed that the whole of the movement should be known as The Boys? Brigade and the name "The Life Boys" was dropped. 

The B.B. has gone on expanding and growing and now there are nearly 5,000 Companies throughout the world.

Did you know...that the Boy Scouts started as part of BB. They became a separate group in 1908.

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Peter Shave (9 Jun 2006)

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