The 5th Glasgow Boys' Brigade Company: Spanning a century


On 30th March 1885, some eighteen months after the foundation of The Boys' Brigade, the 5th Glasgow Company was enrolled. Three well-known men gave most valuable service on behalf of the new institution, namely, the Rev. Marcus Dods, Professor Henry Drummond and Mr. J. Carfrae Alston, who were all at the time in Renfield Church. Dr Marcus Dods officiated at the first united Boys' Brigade service and Professor Henry Drummond did much to extend the movement. He became known as "The Apostle of the Boys' Brigade." The Company was connected with Renfield Free Church and met at 8pm on Thursday evenings in the Mission Hall at 199 Cowcaddens, under the captaincy of Mr J Carfrae Alston.

From its start, the 5th has been associated with the advancement and growth of the Brigade locally and nationally. Mr Alston, Captain from 1885 to 188, was appointed the first Brigade President on 12th October 1885 and held that office for the first twenty four formative years of the organisation (William A Smith, the founder, had declined the post of President in favour of that of secretary.)

During Mr Alston's term of office the Brigade grew steadily and these years also saw the formation of other youth organisations - The Boys' Life Brigade (1889), The Girls' Guildry (1900), The Girls' Life Brigade (1902), the F.D.F (the Danish equivalent of the BB)(1902) and the foundations were also laid for the Boy Scouts (1908).

In 1901 an officer was enrolled in the 5th Glasgow who was also to become a leading figure in BB circles - William D Scott. Mr Scott was appointed Captain in 1905 and held that position until 1950.

The Semi-jubilee of the Brigade was held in 1908 and Mr Scott served on the organising committee. With the onset of war in 1914, Mr Scott, now a Brigade Vice-President, served as Recruiting Officer for the 16th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry (known as the BB Battalion due to the large number of BB personnel connected with it) and subsequently served as adjutant and Second-in-Command of that Battalion.

After the war (the Company lost 35 ex-members on active service during this period), the 5th resumed its normal life and in 1926 the amalgamation of the Boys' Brigade and the Boys' Life Brigade took place - thus the Geneva Cross was added to the BB Badge and the Boy Reserves (formed in 1917 as the junior BB organisation) were renamed The Life Boys.

In 1931, after an amalgamation of churches - St John's Free Church and Renfield Free Church creating St John's-Renfield U.F. Church in 1926, the present church building in Beaconsfield Avenue was opened and the 5th Glasgow moved into their new headquarters.

1933 saw the Brigade celebrate its Jubilee and Mr,. Now Colonel, Scott was Convenor of the Jubilee Committee and commanded the Jubilee Parade in Queen's Park when the Brigade was reviewed by H.R.H Prince George. A great occasion with 32,520 Officers and Boys on parade.

The second world war, 1939-1945, again had a serious effect on the BB and the 5th Glasgow, in common with other companies, had to struggle along with few boys and fewer officers. 13 ex-members lost their lives in service for their country during this war and the horrors of war were brought much closer to home when, during the time of the Clydebank Blitz, a landmine exploded near the Church demolishing a number of houses in the vicinity and killing a number of residents. The 5th Bible Class was held on the following Sunday morning in a church which had lost many of its glass windows.

The 5th Glasgow, a pioneer in camping (and it is interesting to note that travelling camps were popular in the Company in the thirties), has been seen in many places throughout Britain and abroad but notably they occupied a site in Glen Ashdale, Arran over a number of years - the trigonometrical point at the top of Goatfell was erected courtesy of the 5th, Boys having found and obtained the necessary water for mixing the cement from crevices in the rock.


The 5th in 1954

Memories from Bob Smart (seen bottom left the company photo above): "I was a 18 year old Staff sergeant then! I spent a lot of time at the BBs from 1949 when I joined from the Life Boys, till 1957 when I left. I had a whale of a time. I helped form the pipe band and played the pipes. Along with my best pal Jim Heron (played bugle), we marched in the pouring rain to many a church parade down Partick way...All in all, I have a lot to thank the BBs for.....It was a great experience. I am nearly 70 now but it seems like yesterday!"

Past Camps


1913 - Kilchattan Bay, Isle of Bute   1960 - Donachadee, N. Ireland   1972 - Nethy-Bridge, Speyside
1935 - Godesberg, Germany
Benderloch, Argyll
Glen Ashdale, Isle of Arran
  1961 - Turnberry, Ayrshire   1973 - Guernsey
1946 - Whiting Bay, Arran
Glen Ashdale, Arran
Anstruther, Fife
  1962 - Penpont   1974 - Bridge of Cally, Perthshire
1951 - Benderloch, Argyll   1963 - Montrose, Angus   1975 - ---
1952 - Southend, Kintyre   1964 - Dunbar, East Lothian   1976 - Thurso, Caithness
1953 - Southend, Kintyre   1965 - Guernsey   1977 - Ballantrae, Dumfries & Galloway
1954 - Cellardyke, Fife   1966 - Dumfries   1978 - Carradale, Kintyre
1955 - Portsoy, Banff   1967 - Guersney   1979 - Isle of Wight
1956 - Leven, Fife   1968 - Aviemore, Speyside   1982 - Guernsey
1957 - Nairn, Moray   1969 - Guernsey   1994 - Pwhelli, Wales
1958 - Direlton   1970 - Killiecrankie, Perthshire   1995 - Filey, North Yorkshire
1959 - Direlton   1971 - Guernsey   1996 - Filey, North Yorkshire 

Past Captains


1885-1888 - Mr. J. Carfrae Alston   1964-1973 - Mr. Edward G. Macleod
1888-1889 - Mr. Robert S. Manford   1973-1974 - Mr. William C. Frame
1889-1894 - Mr. William McKerrachar   1974-1976 - Mr. Roy Y. Frame
1894-1896 - Mr. David Currie   1976-1984 - Mr. Robin Hutchison
1896-1899 - Mr. James Aitchison   1984-1986 - Mr. Ian C. Brown
1899-1905 - Mr. T. Steele Campbell   1986-1989 - Mr. David Morrison
1905-1950 - Mr. W. D. Scott   1989-1995 - Mr. William McMurray
war years - Mr. Hugh Fraser (acting)   1995-1998 - Mr. Peter Davidson
1950-1954 - Mr. Harry T. Shirley   1998-2004 - Mr. W. A. Munro
1954-1964 - Mr. Walter J. Chinn  

The history of our old colours


The colours were presented to The 5th Glasgow Company, the Boys' Brigade in 1912. Presented by the St Andrews Society, they were the first set of colours ever presented to a Boy's Brigade Company and are also thought to be the oldest set of colours belonging to any youth organisation in the world. The colours are also an important part of Scottish history, as in 1914 the colours were used in the first Parade Review of the 16th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, and this is believed to have been the first time in almost 200 years that a regular unit of the British Army had marched under a Saltire Cross flag. The colours were again paraded in 1919 at the Victory Parade when the colours headed the parade, watched over by Col. W. D. Scott, Captain of the 5th.

On 26th March 1995, the 110th anniversary of the formation of the company, and after 83 years continuous service over two world wars, the colours were retired, and preserved in memory of past members of the 5th Glasgow Company, in St. Johns' Renfield Church.

125 Anniversary


Session 2009-2010 saw the 5th Glasgow Boys Brigade celebrating 125 years since the company's formation. On 30th March 1885, some eighteen months after the foundation of The Boys' Brigade, the 5th Glasgow Company was enrolled. This makes us the second oldest functioning company in the world, (the 2nd, 3rd & 4th are no longer in existence). To celebrate our 125th anniversary we held a number of exciting events to mark this historic milestone. Read more about them below...

125 Anniversary - Staff & Ex-Members Anniversary Dinner


Our 125th Anniversary Dinner was held in the Millennium Hotel, George Square, Glasgow on Saturday 27th March 2010. Around 100 ex-members from far and wide, & across a broad section of eras attended. The night included dinner followed by guest speakers, past 5th Captain Eddie Macleod, Glasgow Battalion Development Officer Jim McVean & current 5th Officer Alan Rattray. Musical entertainment was provided by ex-member David Henderson & David Ross who did a spot on the bagpipes followed by a spectacular drumming display. A great night was had by all and everyone met up with a few old friends and made some new ones!

Partick District Parade - Sunday 28th March 2010


The morning after the dinner the 5th Glasgow hosted the Partick District Parade. Starting at 11am at St John's Renfield Church the service gave us the opportunity to celebrate our milestone with the Companies in the District and ex-members & friends alike. The current Boys' Brigade President Professor Sir Kenneth Calman KCB was our guest speaker. Representatives from the City of Glasgow, Strathclyde Police & local politicians were also in attendance on this very special occasion. Following the service there was a march past, supported by the pipes & drums of the 231st Glasgow Boys' Brigade. Many of the ex-members joined the parade to complete the weekend's celebrations.

Many thanks to all ex-members, speakers, musicians and helpers who contributed to a fabulous weekend of celebrations.

125th Anniversary Fish Supper Quiz night


We held a Fish Supper Quiz night on Saturday 28th November 2009 to celebrate our 125th anniversary with friends, family & members of the church congregation. Around 80 people joined in the fun, with about 15 teams competing for big prizes! The evening saw them test their knowledge with rounds including Geography, Literature & Music. Halfway through the quiz the competitors took a wee break from racking their brains and tucked into a Fish Supper from the local chip shop. The competition for the top 3 slots was very competitive but unfortunately at the other end of the points table 'Bagpackers United', Douglas, Connor & Andrew claimed the wooden spoon (& some sweets) for last place! Thanks again for all who came along and made it such a good evening.