Quinton Methodist Church Girls’ and Boys’ Brigade

By Betty Rose

The 'Brigades' have a long tradition in Quinton. Let me first talk about the Girls' Life Brigade with whom I have been connected for over fifty-five years.

In February 1939 the 40th Company Birmingham was formed at Quinton Methodist Church, in the old building at College Road, now the Quinton Expressway. It happened like this; there was a very happy group of "Bluebirds" meeting each week but unfortunately the leader had to resign. It seemed a pity to have no organisation for girls and so it was decided to start a Company of the Girls' Life Brigade with Mrs A. Green as Captain. The Company started with two Lieutenants, Misses Bardell and Munroe. The numbers were quite small but a very happy little group formed those first meetings and it is good to realise that many of the original group to-day are members of our Past Members Association and meet together twice a year and that Miss Bardell now long retired but very active in her Church and village of Bishopsteignton.

It was not too long before we encountered the difficulties of War, when all Officers had to leave. A faithful few under the guidance of the late Miss J Cocks and Misses Ramsay and Haynes kept the company going, knitting for the war effort etc. When peace returned to the country Miss Bardell was asked to help the company to get back to full strength again and with the two officers and the faithful few the 40th was soon bounding ahead. It should be noted it was because of the enthusiasm of Misses Ramsay and Haynes (Mrs Bailey and the late Mrs Yorke) and the girls who remained that such a good foundation was formed on which the present company is built. Uniform was difficult because of rationing and clothing coupons but it was amazing how people managed. Miss Betty Bardell who had served in the forces came back to Quinton, her parents kept the newspaper and sweet shop in the row of shops on the left on the Hagley Road West before you get to the Hollybush Island. Jean Ramsay, who married Trevor Yorke, lived with his parents in High Street, Quinton. Sheila and Enid Ogelsby's parents kept the jewellery and silversmiths shop on the Hagley Road West by White Road.

By the mid-50s, a 100 strong company was active. I joined, with my two sisters Doreen and Pat, in 1948. We met on Monday evenings. We wore a uniform, now newly styled, of a serge one piece dress with red braid and a tie and badge-I remember how prickly the material was. The tie indicated what section according to age you belonged to-juniors red, seniors blue and pioneers a stripe of two colours. The 5-year olds were cadets and wore a sailor style uniform with red braid. We worked for badges in a Four Square Programme, Spiritual Physical Educational and Service, which we wore sewn on the sleeve of our uniform. We were a very go ahead company attached to Birmingham Division and locally to the 5th Battalion which covered, Quinton, Smethwick, Blackheath, Springfield, Ridgacre, Kidderminster and Bewdley. In those days, without so many cars, those places seemed to be in another world!

We were very competitive and joined in Swimming Galas and P.E. Music and Movement, Balls, Hoops and Skipping Competitions- very often winning trophies. Health and First Aid, Baby Care and Spiritual Bible Study and Temperance Exams. We had to belong to a Sunday School not necessarily Quinton Methodist and take the 'pledge' against alcohol. Our Motto was to "Save Life". We paraded with our own Band and The Boys Brigade under the captaincy of Mr. Jim Chaplin (affectionately known as "Big Jim to his older boys). On the 2nd Sunday of each alternate month, we marched either from the Old Bus Garage, up Ridgacre Road into Stoney Lane or from The Stag and Three Horseshoes along Kent Road and up Spies Lane. These days the police will not allow the Brigades to march on public roads.

Girls' Brigade

Quinton Methodist Church annually held a Garden Party in the grounds of Quinton Hall, formerly Bourne College. The boys and girls took part with the band, dance and skipping demonstrations; gymnastics, football and cricket games.

Annual Camps were held from 1948. Food was still rationed but somehow food coupons were saved and given for these special holidays. Many girls had never seen the sea and certainly had not been on holiday. Equipment was packed into wooden tea chests and sent by British Rail to the camp destination in advance of the group. We all travelled from Snowhill Station by steam train to places like Newton Ferrers by Plymouth, Braunton, Ilfracombe and many other places including Switzerland.

We took part in Company Displays and Divisional and National Performances appearing at the Central Hall in Birmingham, Thimblemill Baths (they used to put in a dance floor over the baths) and The Royal Albert Hall in London.

Many members of the Quinton Local History Society owe a great deal to Quinton Methodist Church and The Girls Brigade organisation who helped to broaden our experiences and lives- we were very fortunate young people.

What did other organisations do in the 40's and 50's in Quinton? I am sure Bernard would love to receive an article from you.

The aim of the Boys Brigade was “The advancement of Christ's Kingdom among Boys”. The first meeting was held on Wednesday 28th September 1949. J.B. Chaplin, known as "Big Jim" to his boys, assisted by W.J. Williams and J. Callarman, formed the 59th with fifteen boys. By the early 1950s the company had become 100 strong.

The Boys Brigade at Quinton Methodist Church has a longer history than this. The 2nd Quinton Company was formed in 1939 by Mr. Bill Rollason-of Rollaprint fame-together with his wife Mary, a well known local preacher in and around Halesowen, Quinton and the Black Country. Mary was a teacher at Lapal School and wrote articles for the local press. The company continued until the outbreak of the Second World War when Bill joined the RAF. With no men to run the company it closed.

Jim Chaplin moved with his family from Wakefield to Quinton. Mrs Ogelsby, whose daughters Sheila and Enid were stalwarts of the Girls Brigade, persuaded him that the Church needed Boys Brigade. During his time he gave service as Treasurer, Secretary Young Peoples Class Leader. He was also founder of the Badminton Club as well as BB Captain. In 1960 Jim resigned to become Adjutant of the Birmingham Battalion and his place was taken by Mr Clive Hewitt one of those first fifteen boys on the first night.

Boys' Brigade

They were very successful and competitive in the area and won the Battalion Drill Shield in 1958, 1959 and 1960 and were runners up in 1956, 1957 and 1961, In addition the Company led the First Division of the Battalion Football League in 1959/60 and in the week-night cricket league in the same period. The West Midland First Aid Shield was gained in 1960 and the Battalion cross country Junior Cup in 1952 and 1955. Many company members became Queen's men by obtaining their Queens Award, the highest award nationally in the BB, together with Presidents Award. Normal weekly programmes comprised Bible Class, Drill Parade, First Aid Wayfaring PT Citizenship, Swimming and Fireman's Class during the Summer. These pursuits aimed at a balanced programme.

A weeks camp every Summer was the highlight of the year with weekend activities also arranged.

Did you belong to the 59th- have you any memories, again I am sure the Bernard would like to know?

© QLHS & 2004

Ed’s Comment-Many thanks Betty for a super article and for a glimpse at the other ephemera connected with the Brigades. Can anyone else let us have their memories of any clubs and societies in Quinton in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

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