St Pauls Memorial

BB Gazette Vol.94 No.2 - December 1985

In 1982 the Brigade Executive decided that a memorial to the Founder be erected in London to mark our Centenary. At about the same time requests for such recognition had also been received from past and present members of the Brigade. Accordingly, an approach was first made to Westminster Abbey but the authorities were unable to accede to our request.

We then asked the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral and they readily agreed to the placing of a memorial to Sir William Smith in the Crypt, thereby continuing the Brigade’s long association with the Cathedral. As early as 1894 a Brigade office was established in London in Paternoster Row in the shadow of St Paul’s. The Founder died in London on 10th May 1914 having been taken ill during a meeting of the Brigade Executive, and his funeral service was held at St Paul’s when officers and boys, together with leaders of all the uniformed organisations and representatives of other religious and secular organisations, filled the Cathedral to capacity. In the years since then the Cathedral has been the scene of many major BB events arranged by London District.


What is the purpose of such a memorial? It is, of course primarily to perpetuate the memory of a person, and especially of those who have achieved national eminence; to commend his/ her work and achievements to those who follow. In the case of Sir William to say that he was ‘Founder of The Boys’ Brigade’ is a more than adequate statement of his life’s achievement. But what of the man himself? How were his characteristics to be portrayed, and conveyed to the observer, remembering that many of the thousands of visitors to the Cathedral who see the memorial will never have heard of Sir William or The Boys’ Brigade?


Mr David Kindersley, MBE, a sculptor preeminent in his field, whose work can be seen elsewhere in the Cathedral – including the South Atlantic memorial – was commissioned to make our memorial. What should be included in the design? It was decided that a profile portrait of the Founder’s head, raised one inch in relief, should surmount the memorial, with below it the inscription: Thus Sir William the man is portrayed as a noble head and his spirituality and Christian manhood are enshrined in the words of the Object which his genius inspired. The memorial is made of Nabresina marble, a pale, modern-looking stone, and its dimensions are 4 ft. 7 in. high and 2 ft. wide. Its general appearance is enhanced by the use of colour, the words of the Object being picked out in red and the crest in gold with its red cross.


The Dedication and Unveiling of the memorial took place on Founding Day (4th October) 1985, following Evensong which was sung immaculately by the Cathedral choir in the presence of a representative congregation of BB officers and boys drawn from most parts of the British Isles. The Archdeacon of London (The Venerable Frank Harvey) was well qualified to perform the ceremony for not only is he a member of the Cathedral Chapter, he is also a former Life Boy and BB Boy (in the 53rd Liverpool Company of which his father was Captain) and a BB officer and sometime Captain of the 70th Liverpool. In his address the Archdeacon said that we were commemorating ‘young Bill Smith’, reminding us that the Founder was a young man of 29 years when he started the 1st Glasgow Company. 

Alfred Hudson – Brigade Secretary

Media Files


William A. Smith

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Unveiling & Dedication programme

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