The Boys’ Brigade is a Christian organisation founded in Glasgow in 1883 by William Alexander Smith with the purpose of the “promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, self discipline, self respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.” The Boys’ Brigade proved a great success and ten years later, the Girls’ Brigade was formed along similar lines. An early admirer of the Boys’ Brigade was Lieutenant General Robert Baden Powell who, in 1907 founded the Boy Scouts.
In 1997 Long Marston residents Chris and Jan Longhurst, with the support of Rev. Martin Nathaniel, decided to set up a local branch of the Brigade. Both Jan and Chris were experienced Brigade officers, having helped to organise a number of groups over the years.
A Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade were formed and the two groups joined together for the weekly meetings. The group was open to boys and girls aged between 5 and 11, and was held at the Victory Hall, Long Marston, although later moved to the Cecilia Hall, Puttenham. At its height the membership was twenty four children.
The weekly meetings would involve a lively mixture of games and stories, rounding the evening off with prayers. During the summer months camping trips were arranged and an annual open day organised to attract new members. This would include stalls, outdoor activities and a barbeque.
Sadly, the Long Marston Boys’ Brigade came to an end in June 2000 when Jan and Chris moved out of the area.
Article written by Maggy Winship.
Acknowledgements: Chris and Jan Longhurst.
For more information see The Boys’ Brigade Website.