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BB anchor  History of the Boys' Brigade in Anderston      


A social history of the BB in Glasgow
 photos and memories preserved on GlescaPals for future generations.

John N Cooper BB Officer.......I first met John in the late 1970s when he was involved in Boys' Brigade Bands at Glasgow Battalion level. He was in charge of the Glasgow Battalion Brass Band and the Bandmaster of the 32nd BB Company Brass Band. At our first meeting his love for the BB and his love of music was very evident.
BB bands are and were very difficult to maintain, for the simple reason that Boys grow-up, leave the company, putting the band back to basics as you continually strive to bring new boys through to keep the band 'alive'. 
My BB company ( 219th Glasgow ) was working very hard to keep our flute band 'on the road' and John was a great inspiration to me by encouraging me to bring my Boys along to various local and Battalion events. This stimulated great interest with the Boys and from 1978 to 1983 my band was ever present with The Glasgow Battalion Brass Band...and John 


John N Cooper, Oct.2005. 
 photograph by webmaister


I have thanked him for all his help in those days, 
he really was and is a wonderful Glaswegian. 
Now through GlescaPals we have been reunited 
and I am delighted to have the opportunity to tell the 
world about this book/CD he has written. 

Anyone who was a member or friend of a 
Boys' Brigade Company will love his book/CD, 
the full history is chronicled from 1883 and the life 
and workings of the movement is seen through the 
activities and photographs of the 
Glasgow Anderston BB companies. .......

32nd Glasgow BB officer



by John N Cooper

Photograph - Sergeants of the 32nd Glasgow taken - 1892

Numerous histories have been written recounting the story of The Boys’ Brigade (BB), indeed a number of BB Companies have produced localised versions of their own history. To date, no attempt has been made to record the collective presence and work of the various BB Companies who were active in the Anderston area of Glasgow . With the invaluable collaboration of Jim MacKenzie, current Captain of the 231st Glasgow Company (a former Anderston Company), and contributions from a number of other ‘BB people’, I am taking this opportunity to bring together our collective knowledge of The Boys’ Brigade in the area in which we grew up - Anderston.

Wherever friends gather, thoughts and conversation often turn to the ‘old days’. Few take time to consider that unless such reminiscences are recorded, they simply disappear. The very mention of the BB will invoke memories of time spent in the Organisation among every ex-member, who will have recollections particular to specific interests be it, Football, Camp, Band etc.
Thinking back to the days of our lost youth is what makes memories, or nostalgia, so potent. Those days cannot be brought back, but memories can be revisited. That is partly the reason why this history has been written but, perhaps more importantly, it is an account that will be available to future generations. This record of the BB in Anderston will provide not only documentary evidence, but will offer insight into how the Organisation worked and what it meant to be a member. 
Every BB Company had to have a Church connection and, whilst the future of the BB in Anderston today may be somewhat uncertain, what is not in doubt is the tremendous influence the Organisation has had on thousands of youngsters who passed through the ranks over the years. It is well nigh impossible to fully measure the impact The Boys’ Brigade had on the youth of Anderston; suffice to say the Organisation offered thousands of young lads direction and a positive outlet for theirs energies. The BB was an important part of growing up for many Boys and, through membership of the Organisation, countless lifelong friendships were established. The opportunity for Boys to develop and express hidden untapped skill was encouraged by their Officers, every one of whom was an un-paid volunteer. The positive influence of the Officers and Leaders, who often became role-models to the Boys, is incalculable.

This history is dedicated to the thousands of Officers, Instructors and supporters who devoted their time, skills, energies and resources to the work of the Boys’ Brigade. Whilst this history is primarily focused on the Anderston district of Glasgow, many of the reminiscences will no doubt be applicable wherever in the world the BB had a presence for they, too are
All Part of the Story”. John N. Cooper,
Glasgow, October 2004.


. All part of the Story   
s available in book & CD format and  can be seen at the Mitchell library.  


.... I met John in July 2022 ....

 In August 2021 he redrafted
a strictly limited edition
of the original version of
'All Part of the Story"

The original was
first published in 2004

All part of the story
All part of the story
All part of the story

 other publications by John N. Cooper


Anderston then
and now

available in book
CD format 

Simply Anderston

Simply Anderston

                                  - Glasgow Stedfast mag

Glasgow Stedfast Association - THE LINK  (editor J.N.Cooper)

Autumn 2022 Article

See PDF file (1.4Mb)

It is interesting where the walk of life takes you and the
people you meet during that walk


John Cooper  sad news  from  (Glasgow Stedfast Association)  (BB Glasgow Battalion)

            It is with very sad hearts we let you know that John Cooper our archivist and Link editor passed away on Sunday 19 February 2023 after a long and courageous battle against pancreatic cancer.

John had a long association within Glasgow Battalion serving on Band & Drill Committees as well as being a member of the Battalion Executive.  
As a Boy he started in the Life Boys of the 32nd Glasgow, moving on to the Company Section where he stayed until 1963. Church unions in the Anderston area resulted in John serving as an officer with the 17th Glasgow (an amalgamation of the 17th and 32nd), the 41st Glasgow (who then merged with the 17th and 227th) before another number change resulted in him being back with the 32nd!

         John's contribution to the work of Glasgow Battalion and the Glasgow Stedfast Association is unprecedented within the BB movement. He had amassed the most amazing archive covering brass band work, camping exploits, uniforms, badges, programmes of major BB events and literature over a period of some 45 years. His activities were not confined to Glasgow but were world wide with very strong links in Australia and New Zealand and in particular with Keith Young in Brisbane with whom he had a close working BB connection.

           The number of booklets and leaflets he has written on the history of the Founder and of the development of the BB since its birth in 1883 was very important to John who was keen that the present generation of BB Boys knew and understood what previous generations had done to promote the Object of the BB and the ideals of our Founder. They had to understand what the very first uniformed youth organisation had done for Glasgow, the UK and World Wide during the 140 years of our existence and to thank previous generations of men and women who had carried Sir William Smith's vision forward to successive generations of Boys (and now Girls).

             He had a long history with music and assisted with the formation of a number of Company and Battalion Bands, taking part in local events at the Kelvin Hall, performing during the Brigade Centenary and regularly taking part in Scottish Band Concerts as well as parades at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade and Royal Mile.

          Most notable among John's achievements was his leadership in promoting Brass Band work within Glasgow Battalion as leader and conductor of the Central Band and his meticulous organising skills brought to bear with the Scottish Bands Committee who owe him a great debt of gratitude for all his hard work.


For John all pain and suffering is now over as he is at rest with his Lord and Master. To Heather his wife, his daughters and grandchildren we offer our deepest sympathy at their loss and assure them they are in our thoughts and prayers, as we give thanks for all that John did during his very full life and his commitment to The Boys' Brigade.

Funeral will be held at 11:00am on Friday 10th March, 2023 at the

Hurlet Crematorium, Glasgow Road, Barrhead, G78 7TH

Everyone is very welcome to attend. BB uniform can be worn.

A funeral tea will follow afterwards at The Dalmeny Park Hotel, Lochlibo Road, Barrhead, G78 1LG


For John all pain and suffering is now over as he is at rest with his Lord and Master


BB Index


Glasgow Books



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