The Boys’ Brigade movement was founded by William Alexander Smith (later, Sir William) in October 1883 in the west end of Glasgow, near Kelvinbridge. Smith was a Sabbath School teacher who saw that the older boys were bored and restless. They did not respond to teachers who told them to behave, and Smith compared this to his afternoons spent with the army volunteers where he had no difficulty in making a hundred men obey his every word.
It was then he had his idea: 'Drill and Discipline'. Why not turn the Sabbath School boys into a volunteer band or brigade, with the same military order, obedience, discipline and self-respect as the volunteers? A programme combining games as well as discipline, gymnastics and sport as well as hymns and prayers would appeal to the boys. Smith planned the programme for this new idea with two friends, and the three leaders invited the boys of North Woodside Mission Sabbath School to join The Boys' Brigade.
The new organisation's badge was an anchor, and the motto 'Sure and Stedfast'. This was taken from the Authorised Version of the Bible, from Hebrews, chapter 6, verse 19: 'Hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast'.
There was nothing else like it and its popularity soon spread. Companies began to be formed in churches all around Glasgow and further afield.
In 1904, the elders of the recently opened Broomhill United Free Church decided that a Company should be started. The Minister of the Congregation, the Rev. James Henderson, secured the services of Mr D W Thomson, who was an officer in the nearby 97th Glasgow, to command this new Company, and he, with Messrs Young, Macdonald and Smith as his Lieutenants, started “the work.”
Recruiting was announced around the area and an enrolment meeting was held on Tuesday 4th October 1904 (coincidentally the Brigade’s 21st birthday) and the first Parade Night was held on Friday 7th October 1904. By the end of that first session, over 20 Boys had joined the Company and on 7th December 1904, the Company was formally enrolled by the Glasgow Battalion Council as the 130th Glasgow Company.
Under Mr Thomson’s enthusiastic leadership, until he retired in 1925, the Company grew in strength and became well known in the Glasgow Battalion. In 1910 it won the Battalion “Smith Park” Challenge Shield for Drill and the team appeared in the Battalion Display that year in Hengler’s Circus.
During this early period, the Pipe Band was formed and for many years it played a leading part in the success of the Company. At first, they were only equipped with half-size bagpipes and it was some time before the original sets were disposed of and full-size sets were purchased.
In May 1914, the Brigade suffered the great loss of the death of its founder, Sir William Smith, and two members of the Company had the honour of forming part of the Guard of Honour at the graveside.
From the outset, camping was a very popular BB activity and, during the summer of 1922, a number of officers and Boys attended the Battalion Camp at Elie, where the church’s Minister, the Rev J A Turner Kennedy MA, was Camp Chaplain.
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