Shropshire Battalion

The first brigade companies in Shropshire were all started in the County town of Shrewsbury. Initially it was only BB but later BLB as well.

The 1st Shrewsbury was formed in 1889 at St. Nicholas Presbyterian CofE, followed later the same year by 2nd Shrewsbury. By 1890, a 3rd Shrewsbury company had been formed. However, in 1900 there were only two BB Companies in Shropshire, the 1st Wellington –(Wesleyan Methodist), and the 1st Shrewsbury.

Two companies of the Boys’ Life Brigade were formed in Shrewsbury, and may have been the reason for the demise of the 2nd and 3rd BB Coy’s. 1st Shrewsbury BLB was founded in 1903 by the Rev. A. H. H. Organ, who would later become well-known for his work in the BB Rest huts in Rouen, France, during WW1. The 2nd Shrewsbury BLB started in 1905 under the auspices of the Shrewsbury Sunday School Union.

By 1950, the number of companies had increased, but a Battalion had not yet been formed.

1st Dawley (1949)  –  High St. Methodist
1st Madeley –  Baptist
1st Oswestry –  Oswald Rd Presbyterian
(1st Oakengates had existed between 1926 – 1946)
2nd Oakengates –   Congregational  (1947)
1st Wellington (1942) –   All Saints Parish.

Eventually, with a number of new companies being founded an ’embryo’ Battalion was formed around 1960, known as the ‘Wrekin Group’ comprising 1st Dawley, 2nd Oakengates & 1st Wellington. Within two years this expanded to include the new 1st Shrewsbury and the newly-formed 2nd Company. By 1968 there were two more Shrewsbury Companies, the 3rd & 4th and the marriage with the ‘Wrekin Group’ was no longer regarded as workable, so the Shrewsbury companies parted with the Wrekin Group to form the ‘Shrewsbury Group’.

Suggestions to form a ‘County Battalion’, whilst looked upon favourably by the Wrekin group, were dismissed by the Shrewsbury Group, particularly the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Companies who had developed close ties with the North Staffs Battalion. The 2nd, 3rd & 4th Shrewsbury companies applied officially to become part of N. Staffs Battalion, which, on paper actually happened for a few months. However, the whole process caused some ‘dissension’ within the County.

However, 1968 was the year the Brigade revised its constitution, stating that ‘every company shall be a member of a Battalion’, effectively leaving the 1st Shrewsbury and the Wrekin Group needing to be in a Battalion. There were ‘special cases’ but key West Midland District leaders wanted a ‘Shropshire Battalion’. It was 2nd Oakengates which would lead the way in trying to create the new Battalion. The Brigade Secretary (Ian G. Neilson) who was involved in the process was keen to get the various parties together and he wrote hoping that the ‘more difficult… (are)…gently thumped in the right direction’. By the end of 1968, still nothing had been sorted.

In March 1969 the Shrewsbury Group maintained that they could not run a Battalion on their own or with the Wrekin Group. 1st Shrewsbury agreed to join the N. Staffs Battalion ‘under pressure’ in September 1969. By the end of 1969 the 3rd Shrewsbury had lapsed and there were thoughts that the Wrekin Group could even form a new Battalion with just three companies because there could be more new companies with the New Town of Telford developing. It had always been the District’s desire to form a ‘Shropshire Battalion’ and by the end of 1969 the idea was still on the table.

A joint meeting of the Wrekin & Shropshire (Shrewsbury) Groups took place on 17th June 1970 comprising, 1st Dawley, 2nd Oakengates, 1st Shrewsbury, 2nd Shrewsbury & 1st Wellington. Following this, application was made to form a ‘Shropshire Battalion’. On the 4th October 1970 at the Brigade Executive meeting in Ayr the new Battalion was approved.

The first meeting of the Shropshire Battalion Executive took place on 30th October 1970 and arrangements were put in hand for an Inaugural Service & Founders Parade in Abbey Foregate Congregational Church Shrewsbury. A letter would be sent to 1st Albrighton inviting them to join the Battalion. Mr E. R. Staniford (Stedfast Mag & Brigade Executive) preached at the Inaugural Service and took the salute afterwards at St. Chad’s. The first Council meeting took place on 14th July 1971 at Dawley. President: Mr G. H. Macdivitt, Vice President: Mr D. M. Bosworth, Chair: Mr H Tanner, Secretary: Mr G. Jones, Treasurer: Mr N. Pike.

Sadly the 1st Shrewsbury, 1st Albrighton and 1st Dawley all closed, and by August 1996, with only four companies remaining; 2nd Oakengates, 1st Wellington, 2nd Shrewsbury, & 1st Oswestry, the Battalion looked to merge with neighbouring Wolverhampton. The President was Mr Derek E.T. Whittingham, Secretary: Mr Keith Bailey and Mr Pike was still treasurer at the time. The merger took place and the remaining Shropshire companies became part of the Wolverhampton Battalion.

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