1954 – Founder’s Centenary

By the 1950s Britain was moving into a period of unprecedented prosperity, The Festival of Britain and The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, both bringing large public celebrations to the fore. The Boys’ Brigade was a well-known, and well-established part of society, and having played a role in the Festival of Britain with the run across Britain, been represented inside the Abbey for the Coronation, as well as the televised presence of the Duke of Edinburgh as Chairman at the annual Albert Hall Display, 1954 provided the opportunity for large high profile public events. 1954 was the centenary of the birth of Sir William Alexander Smith, and The Boys’ Brigade celebrated it with a number of large public events as well as their first truly International Camp.

All over Britain planned events were held in commemoration, such as the Torch Run from Thurso, the Founder’s birthplace, to Glasgow, where the Brigade Council was being held in September on a scale reminiscent of the 1933 Jubilee- including a massive ‘Conventicle‘ in Hampden Park (18,000 boys and officers, 60,000 spectators), and an excursion by steamer down the Clyde. On 20 February 1954, Belfast Battalion staged a ‘Cavalcade of Boyhood’ in the King’s Hall, and on 21 May an outdoor show, ‘B.B. Fanfare’, at Windsor Park, the city’s largest football ground. The display of the Dundee Battalion in the city’s lee Rink surpassed all records, while the Edinburgh Battalion put on the pageant ‘Scotland the Brave’ at the Empire Theatre for a whole week. Another memorable pageant, ‘Soldier of Christ’, based on the life of the Founder and written by Thomas Henderson and Douglas Smith, son of Sir William, was performed by battalions and groups in many parts of the country. On a national scale, events really got under way on Saturday 19 June 1954 with ‘The Festival of Boyhood‘ held at Wembley Stadium, organized by the London District, with about 3,000 boys from all over Britain taking part in a spectacular programme watched by ten times their number on the terraces and stands.

The Founder’s Camp held on the playing fields of Eton College, included representatives from Australia, British Guiana, Bahamas, Jamaica, Canada, Denmark, Holland, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Singapore, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, United States of America, and Nigeria.

The celebrations culminated with the Thanksgiving Services in St. Paul’s and St. Giles’ Cathedrals on 27th October and the Founder’s Day Services throughout the world.

Media Files



Presented by The Boys Scouts of Glasgow to The Boys’ Brigade on the Centenary of the Birth of Their Founder Sir William Smith.

In Tribute to past records and to wish success to future hopes.

Glasgow September 1954.

Original of the Statuette was designed and executed by Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell.

The Boys’ Brigade Archive Collection.


1954 Links


Share This

Founders Centenary year

Heritage -
Newsletter of The Boys' Brigade Archive

Heritage is the newsletter of The Boys’ Brigade Archives. Volumns 1 and 2 were published in print form by the BB Archive Members Association. Volumn 3 onwards is a digital newsletter sent to supporters of the BB Archives monthly.


The Boys’ Brigade Archive Trust relies on supporters to further the preservation and promotion of the Heritage of The Boys’ Brigade, ensuring that is is accessible and relevant to future generations of young people. If you are able to support our work though a financial donation, by the donation of artifacts, photographs and paperwork of by volunteering please click on the links below. If you wish receive our monthly newsletter please sign up. We look forward to hearing from you and advancing the work of The Boys’ Brigade Archive Trust.

Whats' new

Our volunteer researchers are constantly developing content for The Boys’ Brigade Virtual Museum.

Links to our brand new content can be found below.