The Boys’ Brigade was born in Nottingham when the North Nottingham Institute comprising the four Parishes of St. Mark, St. Luke, St. Ann and
St. Andrew decided to form a Company after receiving a circular from the then unknown Mr. Smith setting out the Object of The Boys’ Brigade in Glasgow. The very first drill night on the 4th October 1888 showed the premises in Bullivant Street could not possibly cope with the needs of all four Parishes together and it was decided to form a separate Company in each Parish after dissolving the Institute Company. St. Andrew’s registered the 1st Nottingham Company on the 10th October 1888, parading for the first time in the infant school. Therefore, only five years after its founding in Glasgow, The Boys’ Brigade came to Nottingham mostly through the efforts of the late John A. Dixon, J.P., a great Christian gentleman and sportsman.
In May 1892 it was decided to form a Battalion in the City and by the end of the first year 10 Companies, 42 Officers and 450 boys had been enrolled.
By 1900 the number of Companies had doubled and there were 85 Officers and 1158 boys. Appropriately, the first Battalion President was John A. Dixon, J.P.
The first gentleman to officiate as Captain at the 1st Nottingham Company was
Dr. W. Windley and subsequent Captains include Mr. W. Newham, Mr. H. H. Bradfield, Rev. A. H. Hatfield, Mr. W. R. Bryan, Mr. W. Paling, Mr. A. L. Nichols, Mr. R. T. O. Hawthorne, Mr. David Harvey, Mr. D. H. Richardson, Mr. G. W. R. Harvey, Mr. D. K. Mills, Mr. M. Cahill, Mr. J. Caunt and Mr. D. Odam. The first Sergeant’s Championship Competition held in Nottingham was won by the late Mr. W. Asher when a Sergeant in the Company. The first Company Camp was held at the invitation of Sir Charles Seely at Sherwood Lodge during Whitsuntide 1890 and the first at the coast was held in 1909 at Trusthorpe. Around 1950 the Company welcomed to their ranks Boys from the Gordon Boys’ Home and later members from Gorsey Road Home. The Gordon Boys’ Home was originally opened at Argyle House in Shakespeare Street on 18th December 1885 by Lord Belper and known as The Nottingham Gordon Memorial Home for destitute working boys. It was set up by public subscription in memory of General Gordon of Khartoum.
The 6th Nottingham Company was based at St. Ann’s Church and later at
St. Ann’s with Emmanuel Church where the first Captain was Mr. A. Scrimegour and later Mr. L. Palmer and Mr. E. H. Ley and the last Captain was Mr. Dennis Chambers. The Company was originally enrolled on 8th May 1891 and met in the tin hut which was the Church Hall at the back of the Church until 1964 when the Company bought the Canon Lewis Memorial Hall on Ransom Road for approximately £2,000 and operated from there until closure in 1998. Some activities such as drill, badminton and band also took place at the old “board” school on St. Ann’s Well Road. The Company used to Parade monthly from the Memorial Hall to the old St. Ann’s Church and the
annual camp used to take place at Tower Farm at Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire. The annual camp used to take place at Tower Farm at Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire.
The Company closed in 1998 and the premises were eventually sold with the proceeds going to The Boys’ Brigade nationally.
In 2011 the 6th Company was re-opened based at the Redeemed Christian Church of God and meeting at Blue Bell Hill Community Centre on Dennett Close off Beacon Hill Rise in St. Ann’s. The Chaplain is Pastor Kehinde (Kenny) Sodipo and they meet on Saturdays from 5.30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.
Another well-known name in the Battalion was R. H. Swain, J.P., founder of the 8th Nottingham Company in 1897 and later the 24th and 27th Companies. He was Captain of the 8th Company for thirty years, Battalion President for thirty-two years, Battalion Secretary and a member of the Brigade National Executive as well as being Sheriff of Nottingham. The Headquarters of the 8th Company, Swain Hall, was named in his memory but was demolished in 1984 to make way for development work by Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and the Company is currently based in the new St. Giles’ Church Hall in West Bridgford.
In 1907 the 2nd Nottingham Company was formed in connection with the Dakeyne Street Lads’ Club in Sneinton by another great personality,
Oliver W. Hind. His great service was perpetuated by the renaming of the Club as the “Oliver Hind Boys’ Club”. The Headquarters of the Company and Club was transferred to new purpose-built premises in 1970 but the Company no longer operates. Its familiar name of “Dako” is still used.
The 17th Nottingham Company also had its own purpose-built premises previously known as The Beeston Lads’ Club and re-named The Pearson Centre for Young People and which was built by S. Hetley Pearson when he
became Captain in 1909. Later he purchased eleven acres of land to be used as playing fields. He was killed in France in 1917. After almost 100 years, the Company moved to new premises on Nuart Road in Beeston which were officially opened by Simon Pearson, great nephew of the Founder, on
2nd February 2008.
The 20th Nottingham Company was originally formed in 1919 at the Wesley Chapel, Broad Street. The Company then moved into the East Nottingham Boys’ Club on Northampton Street in St. Ann’s where the new premises were opened on 3rd March 1932 by the Rt. Hon. Lord Trent. The financing of this Club was entirely due to the efforts of the founding Captain, Ralph Carr. Despite the redevelopment of the entire neighbourhood around the Club it has remained as a youth centre housing Nottingham Battalion Headquarters and
Supply Depot until 2010 when it was sold to one of the Evangelical Churches in the area. The Battalion currently uses a room a Ravensworth Road Methodist Church on a part-time basis as Headquarters for administrative purposes and for the Battalion Supplies Depot. Other property is temporarily stored in a number of Company Headquarters with Archives at Aspley.
The Battalion was visited by the Founder of The Boys’ Brigade, Sir William A. Smith, on three occasions: at the Battalion Annual Demonstrations in 1903 and 1912 and again in 1913 during the Battalion 21st Celebrations when the
old Colours were Trooped and new ones handed over by the Lady Mayoress of Nottingham.
At the Annual Demonstration in the Albert Hall in 1911, Lord Guthrie, the Brigade President was present. In the same year the Battalion took part in the Coronation Day Parade along with other organisations and afterwards were given a lunch at the Empress Skating Rink.
Nottingham Battalion has acted as host to Brigade Council on no fewer than six occasions, the first in 1906 and subsequently in 1920, 1947, 1957, 1972 and 1992 (our Centenary Year). In August 1983 we hosted the Brigade World Conference at Nottingham University.
In 1927 the Battalion Church Parade Service at Wesley Chapel, Broad Street, was broadcast, the first time that such a Service had been heard on the radio in Nottingham. 1957 saw a major event in the history of the Battalion – as far back as 1903 there had been Annual Demonstrations and Displays in such venues as the Mechanics Hall, the Albert Hall and the old Hippodrome and
Empire Theatres, but to coincide with the visit of Brigade Council in 1957 the Theatre Royal was booked for one week when the Battalion show
“Nottingham Rock” was launched with considerable success. The Show has been staged at two year intervals since that time with The Girls’ Brigade and re-entitled “Shine”. Location was transferred to the Sandfield Centre on Derby Road and The Nottingham Arts Theatre on George Street, last produced there in March 2013.
At the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 the Battalion played its part, along with other boys’ organisations, by maintaining a Boy Messenger Service under the City Air Raid Precautions Scheme. The following year a
Squadron of the A.T.C. (No. 1059) was formed within the Battalion with seventy members.
In the mid 1950's, the Nottingham Battalion Secretary of the day, Mr. T. Harold Spires, went with Mr. David Richmond who was a City Councillor and Chairman of the Nottingham Battalion Training Committee to meet Mr. R. J. Thom who had been appointed headmaster of Fairham Comprehensive School at Clifton. Mr. Thom agreed to have a Company of The Boys’ Brigade in the School and a member of staff, Mr. Terry May, was appointed as the first Captain. This was prior to the churches being built on the estate and the Company grew to about 200 Boys. In 1962 the Company based at Fairham School divided into four separate units - 28th A, B, C and D Companies from which on 1st October 1962 the 44th Nottingham (Clifton Methodist Church) Company, the 45th Nottingham (Holy Trinity Church, Clifton) Company and the 46th Nottingham (Clifton United Reformed Church) Company were formed alongside the continuing 28th Nottingham Company.
The 28th Nottingham Company was based at St. Francis’ Church and used old buildings in the area whilst the Church was being built. Junior Sections were started in the Methodist Church, the Congregational Church and at Holy Trinity Church. The Companies in the Clifton area formed the Clifton District of Nottingham Battalion and Mr. Thom was appointed as Clifton District President until 1974. In 1974 Rev. N. Keith Hurt was appointed Clifton District President – Rev. Hurt was a member of the Nottingham Teacher Training College and had been Chaplain of the 13th Hull, 1st and 2nd Thornaby-on-Tees Companies and of South Durham Battalion. In 1978 Mr. T. G. Duckmanton who had been connected with a Company in Warsop for 34 years and was President of Mansfield Battalion for 12 years was appointed Clifton District President and in 1986 Mr. George Marlow.
In 1974 Mr. David J. North gave up the Captaincy of the 28th Nottingham Company in order to work in Wales and in 1975 Mr. E. Dable was appointed Captain but it ceased to meet in 1976.
Also in 1976 the 1st Kegworth Company became part of the Clifton District under the Captaincy of Mr. Adgey and later Captains were Mr. Trevor Allan, Mr. Mick Wallis and Mrs. B. Wallis.
Mr. Frank E. Thompson was Captain of the 44th Nottingham Company which celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a week-end of events on 16th/17th/18th October 1981. On 23rd January 1981 the Company started a Pre-Junior
Section, later known as the Anchor Boys, under the Officership of Mrs. Jennifer Coyle. They currently meet in The Methodist Church Hall on
Rivergreen on Fridays at 6.30 p.m.
The Holy Trinity Church started its life in 1840 in Trinity Square in Nottingham. The Church closed in 1956 and was moved to the new Clifton estate and was consecrated in 1959. The 45th Nottingham Company (Holy Trinity Church,
Clifton) started under the guidance of Mr. E. Lou Mills, the first Company Captain, and rapidly expanded especially with the addition of the Life Boys (now called Junior Section). Mr. Mills resigned in 1974 and Mr. E. R. Fletcher, Mr. Jim Glover, Mr. Charles Finch, Mr. Steve. Collin, Mr. Keith Dennis and Mrs. Helen Kellam were subsequent Captains.
Mr. George Marlow was Captain of the 46th Nottingham Company and later Mr. G. P. Rose who was succeeded in 1981 by Mr. I. Linnell until 1983.
Mrs. Anna Bingham, Mr. Peter Elliott and Mr. Gordon Morris were also Captains.
The first Boys’ Brigade Queen’s Badge in Clifton was gained in 1959 by S. Grant of 28th Nottingham Company.
In 1971 Colour Sergeant J. White of the 46th Nottingham Company at Clifton United Reformed Congregational Church was the first from the Clifton area to win the Battalion Champion Sergeant competition.
During The Boys’ Brigade Centenary celebrations in 1983, Martin Johnson of the 46th Nottingham Company who is holder of the Diploma for Gallant Conduct was selected to present a specially bound copy of Sure and Stedfast which is the official history of The Boys’ Brigade to H.M. The Queen when she reviewed the Centenary Parade at Holyrood Palace. Martin also represented the Boys of Nottingham Battalion at the National Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul’s Cathedral on 27th October 1983 attended by Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
In 1985 the Clifton District was represented in the Guard of Honour during the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales.
There are currently two Companies of The Boys’ Brigade remaining in Clifton - the 44th Nottingham Company where there is no appointed Captain at the moment following the resignation of Mr. Jason Ellis and the 45th Nottingham Company. In 2012 these Companies celebrated together 50 years of Boys’ Brigade in the Clifton area.
When the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was introduced it was soon realised that here was an opportunity to provide progressive activities and the
Scheme was enthusiastically taken up by the Battalion in 1957. The first Awards to be achieved by anyone in Nottinghamshire were gained by three members of the 20th Company.
In 1958 a North Atlantic ship’s lifeboat was acquired by the Battalion and suitably fitted out and named “Stedfast”. It served to train in Seamanship on the River Trent until 2003 when the cost of repairs became too much but the activity itself continues.
In 1992 the Battalion celebrated its Centenary included in which was the hosting of Brigade Council at Nottingham University and events at The Royal Concert Hall. Earlier that year the premises on Northampton Street had been
gutted by an arson attack but under the leadership of Roy Wadd as President the Battalion rallied and the full celebrations went ahead.
The present 14th Nottingham Company (Mansfield Road Baptist Church) celebrated the 90th Anniversary of their original enrolment with a special Service on Sunday, 8th February 2004 and again on 8th and 9th February 2014 celebrated its Centenary with a week-end of events. The Company has had an unbroken association with the same Church all that time. The Company was enrolled on 9th February 1914 and Captains included Mr. O. Hill, Mr. A. R. Wadd, Mr. J. Garton, Mr. D. S. MacGregor and currently Mr. J. Twite.
On 10th May 2007 Anne and Denis MacGregor won the Coroner’s Special Award for service to the community through their work in The Boys’ Brigade and particularly in the 14th Nottingham Company as part of The Nottingham Evening Post and B.B.C. Radio Nottingham’s Reach Out Awards 2007,
having been nominated by a former Company member. They were presented with the Award at a special ceremony at County Hall.
The 32nd Nottingham Company based at Nuthall Methodist Church has consistently been one of our most successful both in member and staff numbers and therefore in the number and range of Competitions and events in which they are able to take part. In 2010 the Company celebrated the 40th Anniversary of its founding highlighted by a Parade Service on 28th November
at which the speaker was the Brigade Secretary, Steve. Dickinson. Some of the Seniors in the Company have regularly teamed up with 17th Nottingham and 7th and 21st Northampton Companies to visit Jamaica and help with the building of a new school room there and in 2013 a group from Nuthall Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades visited Nepal on a similar basis.
H. A. Brown began his service for the Battalion in 1919 as the first full-time Secretary. Harold Spires joined us in 1955 and retired in March 1982 to be followed by John Irons as Field Officer/Battalion Secretary. John resigned in November 2003 and was followed for a short period by Nicola Page and then temporarily by Keith Vinerd. We currently have a part-time Battalion Secretary, Gillian Slack, and for three years employed a shared Development Worker with Leicestershire Battalion (David Keetley) supported by money from the sale of Northampton Street and a grant from Nottinghamshire County Council but he left on 31st August 2014 to take up a post with Southwell Diocese.
Thanks mostly in the early days to the driving force of the then 17th Company Captain, Wendy Kane, in 2002 the Battalion started on a national basis to
organise and host The Robin Hood Knockout Outdoor 5-a-side Football Competition at Powerleague Soccercentre on Thane Road in Nottingham. This initially filled a gap for Under 14’s for whom no such competition existed and it successfully attracted B.B. competitors from afar afield as
Southampton, Cardiff and Durham. A feature of the event to our visitors was that the real live Sheriff of Nottingham presented the trophies. The Competition has since continued almost annually now being extended to an Under 18 League and last held on 21st June 2014.
In 2008/2009 the Battalion celebrated the 125th Anniversary of the founding of The Brigade including the planting of 125 trees in Rushcliffe Country Park on 11th October 2008 and a Battalion Camp at Beaumanor Hall in Leicestershire in April 2009.
In 2011 contingents from 19th Nottingham and 39th Nottingham Companies travelled to London to take advantage of the special areas reserved for youth groups to see the Wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton.
In 2014 the family of the late Eric Hawkins, Chairman of the Battalion First Aid Committee, decided to support us by a donation to try and re-kindle interest in First Aid. With the help of British Red Cross this has resulted in a new competition for the Eric Hawkins Shield based on “Everyday First Aid” for 11 to 15 year olds and we hope this will promote more interest in this subject.
Following the closure of the premises at Northampton Street in 2008, the Battalion held the Christmas Dinner for staff at the Sherbrooke Campsite at Calverton but in 2010 bad weather resulted in it being postponed to become a New Year Dinner. For a few years the date in January was more popular so this format continued until 2013 when the catering staff retired. The date moved again to October and a new approach holding the Dinner at a restaurant in Nottingham in 2013 and is now planned at Wilford in November 2014 which looks like the future pattern.
In 2013 the 19th Nottingham Company now based at The Dales United Reformed Church celebrated 90 years since formation at The Albion Church on Sneinton Road.
Also in 2013 to mark 125 years since the arrival of The Boys’ Brigade in Nottingham an historic exhibition was mounted at The Central Library and Contact Centre on Angel Row including a range of Company photographs. This was very well patronised and led to an offer to hold a recruiting exhibition on the same premises in November 2014 to be repeated in December 2015 and we are grateful for the support of Nottingham City Council in this respect. We also held successful publicity events on Nottingham’s Old Market Square in 2013 and 2014 despite very wet weather and hope to repeat this in drier conditions in 2015.
The Boys’ Brigade now embraces The Girls’ Association and the Nottingham Battalion is presently made up of 23 Companies having enrolled new ones at St. Andrew’s Church on Mansfield Road, Aspley Methodist Church, The Redeemed Christian Church of God in St. Ann’s and St. Nicholas’ Church in Tuxford.
We look forward to continued development.
National Boys' Brigade
Nottingham School Holidays 2013/14