OUR BB Past  (See 'Photos' for further images)

If you would like to contact me you can do so via the ‘CONTACT ME’ link on this site or by email direct to BBFormerMember@aol.com – don’t worry I will repeat this information throughout the site.

But first: -

I belonged to the 5th London (during the 1960s to 1970s), which was formed in 1886, and looks to be the oldest continuously surviving company in England and Wales. Prior to my time, the Company had gained the nick name, 'The Dandy 5th'.


Presentation BB Bible Entry Upon Discharge from the Company

When I was in the BB, the 5th London was based at a well known venue for BB events in those days, the ‘Leysian Mission’ which was in City Road right on top of OLD STREET Tube/Underground Station. Like many 5th London boys before me; I lived in Sutton Dwellings (later Sutton Estate) which was literally opposite the "The Mission" as we generally called it at the time.

Whether I had forgotten, or did not know; I was reminded not that long ago, that the land that Sutton's at Old Street was built on, was for many years the site for a Sarson's Vinegar Factory. Likewise, I only discovered recently, that in years past Cranwood Street, which formed part of our postal address in my childhood, was known as Craven Street. In fact, back in 1797,  a Thomas Keats, his wife Frances and their family lived at 12 Craven Street. Mr & Mrs Keats had a son, who went on to make a bit of a name for himself - 'John Keats' the famous English Romantic Poet.

In later years when the Leysian Mission was sold for redevelopment; the Company, like the church congregation, moved to a new home a few hundred yards/metres down the road towards the square mile of The City of London; to 'Wesley’s Chapel' (John Wesley's Chapel and House).

The Leysian Mission with Sutton Dwellings to the right of the photo

These days the old 'Leysian Mission' is known 
as 'Imperial Hall' but the entrance is much the
same, although the shops have changed!

Where I grew up! - Although this is a modern day photo (below), 'our flat was on the first floor. Starting from the left, the first window was my bedroom; to the right of that, was our lounge; then our kitchen and toilet, then finally (window four) was my parents bedroom. The next four windows on the first floor, was where Billy Hammond (also ex 5th London) lived with his parents.

A similar view of Cranwood Street as it is now, and my old flat (our lounge highlighted)!

"Sutton's" as it is now, with my old block to the very right!


5th London Company 1967 -  'Church Hall' within the Leysian Mission - I'm 3rd from the right in front row sitting on floor

5th London's FaceBook Page Link (Click Here)

Me in my Pilot Jacks Uniform - Aged 7

Me in my Life Boy Uniform (pre Junior Section change of name)

Battalion Junior Section Athletics Champions                      (I'm 3rd Left Standing)

What memories do you have of your time in the BB?……….. Mine are extensive and eclectic and include things such as camping at Swanage in Dorset then in later years at Sheringham, Norfolk. The annual London District Royal Albert Hall Show weekend (no longer held), in which I was fortunate to be involved in every year during my time in the Company Section. It was also a very prosperous time in the various annual competitions held both by London District and at Battalion level; although there had been successful periods in the past too.

Perhaps a little more obscure memory is of 1968, when I was asked to play a lead role in a 'BB' Promotional and record of an event film, being made by London District BB. The event in question was the Tattoo held on the 29th June 1968 at Trafalgar Square. I played the part of the younger brother of a BB boy attending the event in the evening. We were filmed cleaning his uniform and drum etc. My onscreen brother was another 5th London member. Larry Olivier I may not be, but it was semi fun, I think. Sadly, I have never seen the film!

I must admit, I guess I lucky in that I was asked by the late Gerald Walker and John Edbrooke (when they were London Secretary and Field Officer respectively) during school holidays and other times to attend events on behalf of the boys of London District and the BB as a whole. I even helped out at DofE award ceremonies etc at Buckingham Palace.


See Photos Pages 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 for even more 5th London or surrounding area related photos

Devonshire Cup for Bugle Bands

Daily Telegraph Shield for 3 Section Drill

Junior Section Gold Award in 'BB Stedfast' Magazine 1968

Me, now in the Company Section

Participating in the Battalion Bugle Band

London District 'Trooping The Colour' at the Tower of London, Saturday 6th June 1970. I was in both the Massed Brass & Bugle Bands that night

For those of my generation it was also a period of change. Whilst I was in the Life Boys they changed their name to the ‘Junior Section’. Pillboxes and sergeants’ peaked hats were phased out for the replacement ‘Thunderbirds’ style and the nice shaped metal badges were replaced by uniform oblong ones. But I thoroughly enjoyed going to BB so I accepted and got used to the changes, but my one BB regret is that I never got to officially wear the sergeants peaked hat……………. I did get to wear one on a few occasions within displays etc, not quite the same but a reasonable substitute.


Me - Now Promoted To Lance Corporal

1973 - With my late mother, taken at The Leys School, Cambridgeshire (Old Boys of The Leys School founded the Leysian Mission)

1974 - With L/Cpl Hugh McInrue before Saturday afternoon Massed Bugle Band practice, (Albert Memorial Gardens) for London District Royal Albert Hall Display

Queens Badge Award in 'BB Stedfast' Magazine 1975


The style of Queens Badge I was awarded


Now 'S/Sgt.'  - Outside the Leysian Mission

The London Officer Cadet Company - 'Warrant Officer' Training held at 'Parsons Green' - Middle Row Standing, 2nd from Right

1983 – BB Centenary Year and something special happened at the Royal Albert HallWere you there?...... Unfortunately I was away on holiday so missed what was I am told (and confirmed from filmed evidence - click the link below) a truly great weekend culminating on Saturday night with lots of former members of the BB sitting in the audience singing ‘Underneath The Banner’ and ‘Sure and Stedfast’. That night was also momentous for another reason - the launch of an Ex-members Association called the London Stedfast Association.


1983 'Centenary' Celebrations - The Boys' Brigade Locomotive                         Click arrow below to view footage (slight delay to the start)

arrow below
to see an excerpt of the 1983 'Centenary'
London District BB - Royal Albert Hall Display

and 45 years earlier......... 1938 London District Display
at Royal Albert Hall - Again
Click the arrow below

1983 Onwards
I guess I was lucky in that having left the 5th London as a Warrant Officer due to moving away from the area; they produced and still do, a periodic ‘newsletter’ for ‘Old Boys’ of the Company that carried an article about the Royal Albert Hall Show of ’83 and the launch of the newly formed ex-members association.


I think from memory it was my late mother who enrolled me as a member of London Stedfast Association which unbeknown to her then, led me to all sorts of places, to meet all sorts of folk and to establish friendships with people I never knew in the past, but with the common link of being ‘ex BB’.


But who and what is the London Stedfast Association?……… well read on within this site!

By the way, why not contribute an article, photograph or whatever to this site?

Sir W A Smith - Founder of The Boys' Brigade

Kings Messenger

Walk with me!

Some badges of old (thanks to Rob Bolton)

I do seem to receive a lot of questions about the old badges (as above).......... As mentioned elsewhere on this site, my time in the BB was always when change was being made, so sadly I never got to wear the 'old style' metal badges displayed in the above photo myself, although I have seen most of  them over the years. 

Talking of times gone by, to even before my time; if you
click the 'Anchor' below, you will hear something from the 1930's

Words and melody by G. Stanley Smith

Verse 1:
There's an emblem fair that is known to all,
A sign to help us through,
It stands for strength and it stands for right,
An Anchor tried and true.
The emblem of The Boys' Brigade
It helps us on our way,
Our father's knew in days gone by
This sign we know to-day. 

"Sure and Stedfast"
The Brigade Boys' motto clear
That's our watch-word when trouble and trials are near.
"Sure and Stedfast"
To the flag that flies above
In all that we do we'll try to be true
To the Anchor that we love!

See 'Sing-a-long with Stedfast' page for the
rest of the lyrics plus a recording of the song!

National Memorial Arboretum, Staffs

Life Boys Jumper Badge

Ron and Don  - BB 'Stedfast' Magazine 1968

Lenny and Les - BB 'Junior Stedfast' Magazine 1975

I'm not amongst these boys!

Items you might have seen/read properly;
or merely glanced at!!


A little ditty we sang at the 5th London many moons ago!
A Life Boy ate some marmalade, 
a Life Boy ate some jam, 

a Life Boy ate some potted meat,                                                                              a Life Boy ate some spam,                                                                                         a Life Boy had some lemonade and then some ginger beer,                                     and then the Life Boy wondered why he felt so queer.

Whoops went the marmalade,
whoops went the jam,
whoops went the potted meat,

and whoops went the spam,
whoops went the lemonade and then the ginger beer,
and then the Life Boy knew why he felt so queer.

Click Arrow to play 'Mechanised Infantry'!

There are lots more images (see PHOTO's left)


Don't forget to view 'The BB and The Victoria Cross'!