76th Boys' Brigade Glasgow,
Captain Robert J Howie JP
The 76th Glasgow Boys' Brigade Company had 117 unbroken years
having been founded in the Partick mission Hall of Hillhead Baptist
Church on 24 Sept.1887.
In 1962 the company moved with the same boys and Officers intact to
Drumchapel so there was no break and local boys came in. It was the only
one operating in the scheme and Capt. Bob Howie did much pastoral work
not just visiting homes but helping parents, conducting funerals,
dedicating kids and for a time he ran a mission service.
The 76th was cruelly closed down due to local politics
out in Drumchapel, just over three years ago the committee that ran the
community hall they met in and the local Councillor offered little
support. A lifetime's work and dedication
all gone and with nowhere to meet the
The 76th BB had a broad base of boys and refused entry to no one. At one
time a third of the boys were RCs and one boy was Jewish!
They had an excellent Fife & Drum band which
entertained at Erskine, the Kirk mission out Calton way, fetes
(including an RC special school) etc.
the 76th brass band was disbanded they went for a year without a band
for the first time since
1889. That was the year we had the
219th BB flutes along for the Annual Inspection. With
such a large Company Section - at the time around 70 we had to do
something. We thought about bugles and
dismissed that quite quickly as
there was no-one available. Having had the 219th playing that year I
then spoke to a recent Staffie who played in a local band to come back
as Bandmaster which he did. We supplied the money from what we got in
from some rather getting clapped out brass intruments got new drums and
within a year we had a flute band which was to go to camp in Ulster with
us each year. On one occasion we had 51 at summer camp in Castlerock on
the Londonderry coast and with the colours we looked impressive. The two
local RUC men based there were very receptive and allowed us to march
all over the place quite informally. Well they were both ex-BB. One year
we even had a band parade during a stay and covered every street in the
large village as well as entertaining those on the beach at the
flute band had a narrow yellow stripe on their epaulettes and purple
lanyards (NCO's wore orange). as Captain wore red, Lieutenants blue
(Girls Brigade influence) and W/O's and SSgts, yellow. Bob can
recall 2 young lads about 13 arguing. Ranks were important in the 76th
which always had a strong military tradition. One aggrieved participant
said "There's Captain Howie. He'll tell ye". So curious he asked what the argie-bargie was about. One said quite determinedly "Sir, wull ye tell
that bamstick that a Bandsman is higher than a Private?". Keeping a
straight face he confirmed that was so. He gave a satisfactory smile and
proudly told his pal. "See ah telt ye bit naw ye widnae listen."
One year the 76th provided the music for a Glasgow Battalion Parade. The
Battalion Church parade had been grouped into Districts. They had Scotstoun, Partick and Maryhill in a church up off Byres Rd.
John Cooper (Glasgow Battalion Bands Convenor) who greatly supported the
76th unique work in Drumchapel insisted on the 76th flute band (14
strong) playing the parade into the service.
Afterwards we led the whole parade past the VIP's and Baillies all the
way down through Hillhead to the dismissal area in Partick.
So there you are folks a bit part in the long history of the 76th.
see the 76th BB Website for more info and photos :
I was the Officer in charge of the
219th Boys Brigade band and Capt.Howie
invited us along to his 95th anniversary display on 7th May 1982. It is
heart warming to find out in 2008, twenty-six years later, that the
219th were inspirational in the 76th forming their own flute band!
I have known 'Bob' a long time and he is one of life's characters and
its my pleasure to have the opportunity to put his beloved 76th onto
BB Band History :
In the 2nd February 1885 William Smith wrote to a local newspaper telling
them they had organised a band which was making remarkable progress, this
was a flute band consisting of 16 performers. ( First BB band was a
The idea of BB bands caught on very quickly and the BB Annual Report for
1885/86 shows there were five flute bands in existence and only two years
later the Annual Report for 1887/88 reported 35 bands - 25 flute, 2 bugle,
4 brass and 4 pipe bands. all this from only 220 companies then on the