BB History in Australia

In 1890-91 a Company was formed at St. Mark’s Church of England, Fitzroy, MELBOURNE. The next Company started at the Wesley Church, PERTH in 1895, and was quickly followed by Companies in each of the other States on a fairly scattered basis. For instance by 1899 in QUEENSLAND there were Companies in Mackay, Townsville, Weipa, Aurukun, Charters Towers and Brisbane, whilst in NEW SOUTH WALES there were Companies in Richmond, Kurrajong, Bathurst and Cobar and in Sydney. Additionally Companies were operating in Launceston and Hobart, TASMANIA.

1st and 2nd Fremantle Companies at Fremantle Baptist Church and Wesley Church, Fremantle, respectively, and the 1st Northam Company at Northam Presbyterian Church, WA. It was not until 1929 that a new 1st Melbourne Company was formed at Armadale Baptist Church, Melbourne, and a new 1st Sydney Company was formed at Glebe Presbyterian Church, Sydney. 1st Brisbane is still active.

No further Companies were formed in Queensland or Victoria up to the outbreak of the Second World War and in NSW growth was extremely slow. However, the immediate post-war years saw a rapid spread of the Movement with Companies in all states and territories.

At one time another unrelated non-uniformed boys organisation operating in Sydney and Adelaide for many years under the name “The Boys’ Brigade” became legally incorporated in those States, resulting in BB without the right to the use of the name “The Boys’ Brigade” in NSW and SA. Ultimately it was agreed to use the name “THE BRITISH EMPIRE BOYS’ BRIGADE”. In 1970 the Australian Council adopted the name “THE BOYS’ BRIGADE AUSTRALIA” and the Movement is now known by that name in all states of Australia.

In 1948 the Overseas Committee of The Boys’ Brigade Executive Committee in London, appointed Mr. Robert McEwan (Captain 3rd Sydney Company) to act as Honorary Organiser for Australia and acting under this authority Mr. McEwan invited one Officer in each State to join him in what was called the Provisional Federal Advisory Committee (P.F.A.C.). This body continued to operate until 1955 when each state was invited to appoint two representatives to the Committee. The enlarged P.F.A.C. paved the way for the formation of The Australian Council and on 1st January, 1958, The Boys’ Brigade Australian Council was formally constituted. A fitting tribute was paid at this time to the oldest Company in Australia, the 1st Brisbane Company, when its Captain, Mr. R.H. Tait, was elected the first President of the Australian Council.

A more detailed history of The Boys’ Brigade in Australia is published in “Boys, Urchins, Men” by M.E. Hoare.