Boys Brigade and Scouting

Cambridge District Scout Archives

In Cambridge it was Scout Patrols formed in a Boys Brigade Company that were the possible origin of the first Troop that survived long enough to gain the name 1st Cambridge on the formation of the District in 1910. The records of the 1st Cambridge in the Cambridgeshire Collection quote the annual inspection of the 3rd Company Boys Brigade ‘three Patrols from this company are formed to do Scout work’ dated 12/4/1908.  

A few months after the issue of S. for B. B.P. addressed a meeting at the Perse School in March 1908. As a result some isolated patrols were formed and in time these were organised into troops in Cambridge, Cherryhinton, Chesterton, and at the Perse and Higher Trade Schools.  Patrols were also formed within the Boys Brigade.’ WTT     Archaeology 1978       (for Trade read Grade school) 

Later in 1908 a sub committee of the Cambridge District Executive was formed to enquire into the opinion ‘that some of the Boy Scout Patrols were doing harm to certain companies of Boys (Brigades).  At a later meeting a report on Boy Scouts belonging to Boys Brigade and Boys Brigade belonging to Boy scouts was received and regulations upon transfers made.

Cambridge Archives

1908    A sub committee was formed to enquire into the opinion ‘that some of the Boy Scout Patrols were doing harm to certain companies of Boys (Brigades). 

1912    E O Brown of the Boys Brigade sat on the District Committee in 1912 and 1913.  E O Brown, Councillor, remained in 1918 and 1919, without the Boys Brigade affiliation being noted.

c. 1920            ‘Church parades, sometimes with the Boys Brigade and the Church Lads’ Brigade.’                                                    WTT Archaeology 1978

1921    The District Committee felt it was able to ask the Boys Brigade to delay the proposed opening of a new Boys Brigade in Harston until the Harston / Newton Boy Scout troop situation reached some resolution.             District Minutes

1923    3rd Cambridge St John’s Mission Church Troop was formed in but folded, ‘never really got off the ground..as the parish church had the 5th Boys Brigade Company which had been operative for at least 25 years and as at many other places, the established unit was the one to survive.’                                      Ken North        Seven years later it was much the same – see below

1925    November       ‘Joint Church parade with Boys Brigade and Church Lads Brigade.  The numbers attending being 232 scouts plus 15 Scouters from12 troops (against 2 BB companies and one CLB)’ Ken North 70 years of Scouting

1930    42nd Cambridge (St Barnabus) ’the fact that there was an established Boys Brigade Company (1st) attached to the church, we really did not get off the ground…the Troop had to close after 18 months’.       Ken North

1926    Joint Church parade with other boys organisations

1932    ‘At that time there was a close church connection between Christ’s Church and St Matthews so arrangements were made for some of the B.B. boys to visit the camp for a cricket match (of sorts)’.      Ken North

1939    Boys Brigade was also asked to be part of the Air Raid Wardens Messenger Service which was trialled in July and continued through the early years of the war.

1943    Congratulations sent on Diamond Jubilee of the Boys Brigade

1957    Sports Meeting for Boys Brigade and Boy Scouts     

                        Grafton Street Gazette and Abington Advertiser

1964    Six Boys Brigade Companies were listed in Cambridge.

1966    Boys Brigade band asked to pay for St Georges Day March past.  Did so and refused proffered sum to funds.  In years around this date ‘The Band’ was booked, possibly the Boys Brigade band.

That the relationship could be less friendly is found in ‘B P Scouts: An Official History’.  It quotes Michael Grave writing in the Manchester Guardian ‘Not that I have any brief for the Scouts: a deep-rooted antagonism cancels that.   I was in the Boys’ Brigade myself and we and the Scouts were deadly rivals.  I received my first black eye from a Boy Scout….any middle aged man will testify that, thirty odd years ago, when Boys Scouts and the Boys’ Brigade passed each other in the Whitsuntide processions all hell broke loose, what with a clash of bugles and  private fights.’

If Cambridge echoed this experience it is not recorded.

In 2018 the Cambridgeshire Battalion of the Boys Brigade consists of six Companies, 1st Histon, Soham, St Neots, Saffron Walden, and 1st and 2nd Sawston, but none in Cambridge.