Maurice Williamson Centre
The Maurice Williamson BB Heritage Museum was opened in 2010 and is part of the Belfast Battalion’s 13-acre Training & Activity Centre at Ganaway, near the village of Millisle, in Northern Ireland. It is situated on the lovely County Down coast overlooking the Irish Sea.
The building facade replicates the original 19th Century Charlotte Street Mission Hall in Belfast, where The Boys’ Brigade first began in Ireland in 1888. The museum consists of three galleries, a reference library and a small 16 seat cinema.
Cabinet displays represent all aspects of the Brigade from its formation, with information on Bible Class, BB Events, Commemoration, Cups & Trophies, Bands & Music, Physical Activities to mention just a few. Of particular interest are the displays of BB International & Global Fellowship, BB Major Awards and BB Cross for Heroism & Victoria Cross. The Robins/Anchor Boys, Life Boys, Junior Section and Company /Senior sections are all displayed in detail.
A very popular display, with both ex-members and younger boys, is the comprehensive display of metal and cloth badges ranging from pre-amalgamation with the BLB in 1926 to the present day. It includes uniform, buttonhole, mufti, Brigade Council, BB Archive Trust (previously Collectors Club) badges and artefacts. There are approx. 30 sets of named personal badges and over 70 inscribed medals from throughout the UK.
Wall displays include many photographs, BB and other relevant information boards and membership cards. On proud display is the BB pennant carried to the summit of Mount Everest on 27th may 1993 by Lieut. Dawson Stelfox of the 97th Belfast Company. The latest exhibits include ties, cups and mugs celebrating BB anniversaries and special events and a display showing the variations in the original 1926-68 badges.
A feature of the museum are the corner displays depicting Camping and Expedition, Box Work, BB Uniforms and a very moving Corner of Remembrance. This display, along with various artefacts and BB Roll of Honour boards, has the damaged BB Wreath, salvaged from the Remembrance Day bombing at the Enniskillen Cenotaph on 8th November 1987.
‘Hands on’ is very important to the museum and comprises of various quizzes, musical instruments, morse code buzzer, BB uniform and a model of the 1983 Centenary named locomotive, ‘The Boys’ Brigade’, to drive around a model railway layout.
A ‘Curiosity Display’ with ‘BB oddities’ and ‘Not so Sure’ items creates interest and a talking point.
The museum is open to the public every Wednesday between 9:00 and 14:00 or other times on request.
Tel: 028 9032 4853