In such good company at South Shields Boys Brigade

South Shields Boys Brigade form a guard of honour for the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside in 1983.
South Shields Boys Brigade form a guard of honour for the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside in 1983.

Making friends, both here and abroad, was just one of the benefits of being a member of South Shields Boys Brigade.

So says readers who belonged to the brigade and who got in touch when we posted a photograph of past members recently.

Members of the Boys Brigade on their annual battalion march.

Members of the Boys Brigade on their annual battalion march.

The photo in question was taken in February 1983 and showed members of South Shields Boys’ Brigade forming a guard of honour for the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Elizabeth Scrimger and Mrs Kate Fox, when they arrived at the Town Hall.

Yvonne Cooper took to social media to say: “Happily involved since 1983. My husband is Dave Cooper, captain of the 10th South Shields Laygate.

“This maybe had something to do with the 100th anniversary of the Boys Brigade in South Shields because it was called BB 83.”

George David Hope posted:“Was in the 12th company. Made a friend on a trip to Norway in 1982. We still keep on touch, have visited each other on many occasions and he and his sister are my daughters god parents.

Stephen Cook said: “Was in the 10th South Shields at Laygate along with my brother and cousins. Made a load of good friends there” while Margaret Brown added: “I was in the 18th company South Shields as an officer many years ago.”

Having never been in the Boys’ Brigade (I was in the cubs, but left just before I was due to join the scouts), I was keen to learn a bit more about the history of the organisation.

And thanks to the Boys’ Brigades’ very own website, I discovered that it “was the first voluntary uniformed youth movement in the world and many of today’s organisations for young people can trace their roots back through history to the Boys’ Brigade”.

As for its roots, it was founded in Glasgow on October 4, 1883, by Sir William Alexander Smith (so that would explain the reason for the Gazette’s photo).

“From this one company, formed in Scotland, the BB has grown in to a worldwide movement having worked with millions of children and young people for well over a century,” explains the website.

That’s the bigger picture, but what about the local one? What can you tell me about the history of the Boys’ Brigade movement here on South Tyneside? Please get in touch with your thoughts.

One of the pictures on today’s page shows the brigade marching through South Tyneside in 1996. Over the years many other groups and organisations, including members of the Armed Forces, have paraded through the area’s streets.

Have you ever taken part in such a parade? What is the most memorable marches you have ever seen? Please get in touch with your memories.