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Where we started

The Boys' Brigade was founded in Glasgow on 4th October 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith. From this one Company formed in Scotland the BB has grown in to a world wide movement having worked with millions of children and young people for well over a century.

Archive videos

Here is a video from the Jubilee celebrations in Glasgow in 1933, when Prince George visited. The video was captured by Pathe - just look at the number of boys and officers on parade. 

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)

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

2008 - 125th Anniversary of The Boys' Brigade 

The story of the Boys' Brigade 1883-1983

The book 'First for Boys' (download here) is for the BB Boys of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Boys of yesterday will recall many of the events described here, perhaps through rose-coloured spectacles! The Boys of today must make the Brigade of tomorrow, and the Boys of the new and unknown BB century should be proud to learn of their roots.

This book is but a glimpse of the Movement which was and is 'First for Boys'.

'First for Boys’ was written by Donald M. McFarlan.


Officers of the 1st Glasgow Company 1885

Sir William Alexander Smith

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