Since March 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company of 1st St Andrews Boys Brigade has been in moratorium (suspension of all activities of the officers and the boys) this will continue for the time being until further notice.
Within the current strict government guideline the hall is available for hire and all enquiries must be made by contacting Captain Stephen Donaldson at the BB Hall on 01334 472087, please phone in the evening. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, capacity at the hall is limited and therefore please book with date and likely numbers.
1st St Andrews Boys Brigade
The Boys’ Brigade in St Andrews is a long established company, formed in 1894 by William Smith, coincidentally the same name but no relation to, William Alexander Smith the founder of the Boys’ Brigade, nationally in Glasgow in 1883.
At a meeting in the Templars Hall in North Street on 14th March 1894, 88 boys rallied to the calls of William Smith and his helpers to join the Company. Christianity was one of the foundation stones promoted by the organisation and the St Andrews Company was initially attached to the Scottish Coast Mission. The Mission, a fisherman’s and seaman’s Christian body had their premises in Gregory Place. Meetings and parade nights were held twice weekly in the Artillery Hall in Narrow Market Street. These premises were used for a few years until suitable larger accommodation could be found for the increasing number of members which had now risen to over 100 boys.
Captain George H Jackson a retired Indian Army Officer now resident in St Andrews spearheaded the initiative to raise sufficient funds to build premises of their own for the Boys’ Brigade. Along with support from the Town Council, local dignitaries and the Masonic Organisation, plans were drawn up by local architects, Gillespie and Scott for a hall to be built at Greenside Place
The Foundation Stone for the Hall was laid on 18th May 1899 and building work thereafter progressed fairly quickly. A substantial sum of money was raised by holding a 3 day Bazaar in the grounds of Madras College in August 1900 providing sufficient funds to pay off the debt and to assist with future running costs. The hall had been built at a cost of between £2,000 and £3,000. The Bazaar raised £1,360 and public subscriptions amounted to £1,180.
The Boy Reserves, later to be known as The Life Boys now renamed the Junior Section was formed in St Andrews in 1926 under the leadership of Tony Stewart and Robert Dalrymple.
The main purpose for the hall was for the meeting, training and enjoyment of the young members of the two sections of the Boy’s Brigade. However, the Boys’ Brigade Hall has served the community well in many different ways over the years. During the First World War it was requisitioned by the Highland Cyclist Battalion who occupied the hall for the duration. In the Second World War it served as A First Aid Post and in more modern times as a Polling Station during elections, a centre for mass x-rays in the 1950’s and a centre for the Blood Transfusion Service as well as a Covid Vaccination hub more recently. Several local societies and student groups also make use of the premises.
Over the years the Brigade has been blessed with a willing band of volunteers acting as officers and trainers but the most notable of those is Andrew N Thom. He was recruited as an officer in1921 by the then Captain Weir-Breen and served as a Lieutenant for 3 years before becoming Captain of the Company for 45 years until his death in 1969. In memory of his long and dedicated service to the 1st St Andrews a Memorial Cottage in his name was erected at Kirkton of Glenisla, in Angus to be used as a centre for outdoor activities (see below).Many and varied activities have been promoted by the Boy’s Brigade for the benefit of the youth of St Andrews in sport, gymnastics, scripture knowledge as well as a very popular and well tutored Pipe Band. Schemes such as The Duke of Edinburgh Award ran for many years and currently boys are encouraged to attain the highest award in the boy`s brigade, that of the Queen`s Badge.
A N Thom cottage – Glenisla
Andrew Thom was associated with the 1st St Andrews Company of the Boys’ Brigade for almost 50 years. He had been recruited in 1924 as an officer by the then Captain, Weir- Breen and then succeeded him as Captain in 1924. Captain Thom was then in charge for 45 years until his untimely death in 1969.
As Captain Thom had been such a prominent figure in the Boys’ Brigade and much respected in the town, it was felt that some sort of recognition should be demonstrated for all the good work he had done.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme was proving a big success within the St Andrews Boys’ Brigade and only 2 years earlier, in 1967, the first 4 boys in the company received their Gold Awards.
The boys were John (Ian) Mitchell, William Wotherspoon, Brian Kirk and Colin Walker. Much of the work in the latter stages of this scheme involved outdoor activities and it was felt something to facilitate this would be a suitable memorial to Captain Thom.
A fitting tribute was the erection of the Andrew Thom Memorial Cottage at Kirkton of Glenisla, in Angus to be used as a centre for outdoor activities. The cottage stands on ground gifted by the Ferrier family of Glenisla with funds raised by public subscription. Many residents of Glenisla also gave invaluable help. A squad of willing helpers led by Maurice Wilson included many officers, boys, ex-members and friends who spent many hours on site until the job was completed in September 1973. The total building cost amounted to £2,005. Many fund raising events took place within the company and included a production of an A B Paterson play “Reunion in St Andrews” with leading amateur actor and ex-member Andrew Soutar taking the leading part.
The cottage was officially opened by Mrs Thom on Sunday 30th September 1973 and the service of dedication was conducted by the Boys Brigade Chaplain, Rev. Charles Armour and Rev. R Maurice King of Glenisla Church. The opening ceremony and dedication service was attended by serving members of the Company and Junior Sections, many ex-members and friends.
In these modern times changes have had to be made to the original structure and thanks to ground gifted by Jackie and Robin Orr, an extension was added in 2009. An Open day was held at Glenisla on 27 September 2009 to celebrate the completion of the work and on a day blessed with good weather, many parents and friends both past and present attended.
David McGregor Jr and his team must take great credit for overseeing the work to the extension and to the regular on going maintenance required to keep the building in good order to ensure that current and future young boys can make full use of this facility. This renewal and maintenance work continues to this day with voluntary help from ex members Colin Waters, Stewart Kirk, Graeme Cunningham Kenny Rough and friends.