Ray Smedley, who supplied most of the detail of our Roll of Honour of the Great War, is a long-time
member of the Beeston Old Boys' Association, which was formed for those who have been members of the Boys' Brigade in Beeston. This outline of the origins of
the Boys' Brigade on Beeston, the period leading up to the Great War, the remerkable response of its Old Boys at the outbreak of war and the terrible price
paid by many of its members is based on his work, carried out of many years. We are indeed grateful for his contribution.
The Boys' Brigade in Beeston - the history of this organisation in Beeston dates back to 1893, taking various forms and operating from a variety of locations over the next several years.
In these early days, its Captain was Arthur Stephen Rogers, a hosiery manufacturer. He had married Ann Orton, daughter of John Orton, Beeston's surgeon who lived at the Manor House in Beeston and it was that connection
that, no doubt helped when Rogers started a Bible
Class for the membership, in the billiard room there. In around 1899, Captain Rogers moved back to Sutton in Ashfield, his birthplace, and turned to his nephews, Stephen Hetley Pearson and his
brother Noel Gervis Pearson to take over responsibility for the Beeston company. Although the Company had previously used the title "17th Company", it was substantially reorganised and
reformed under Stephen Hetley Pearson.
Stephen Hetley Pearson had been an officer in the Oliver Hind's highly successful Dakeyne Street Lads' Club in Nottingham and set about bringing a similar organisation to Beeston. The Beeston Lads' Club, with a wide range of
activities for boys - including gymnastics, games, band, first-aid and team sports - open every night with a weekly Bible class, all integrated into the regulations and principles of the Boys Brigade, followed
Hind's formula in almost every detail. It has gone on to provide generations of Beeston boys (and later girls) with a firm foundation for life.
In 1909, Pearson opened a club room on the third floor of the Anglo-Scotian Mills, at the top of Villa Street. On the first night, 120 boys enrolled
and its membership and that of the associated Boys' Brigade Company continued to grow dramatically over the next few years so that, by 1913 there was an urgent need for new premises to provide for a membership of 250. An idea of the strength of
the membership can be seen in the photograph of the Company, taken in 1913 outside Anglo Scotian Mills (Click the picture to enlarge and for more detail). Eventually, in 1913. a factory on
Station Road was acquired, helped substantially by the Pearson family. These premises, known as The Lads' Club, later enlarged, were to remain the headquarters of the Company until they were acquired by
developers in 2008, making a move to excellent, purpose-built premises on Nuart Road possible and where its excellent work with the young people of Beeston continues.
'Oliver Hind and the 2nd Nottingham Company of the Boys' Brigade' by Terence Woolley was published in 2013 (ISBN 978-0-9576599-0-2). It is a comprehensive and interesting account of how Oliver Hind combined the
ethos of the Boys' Brigade with the excellent recreational and training facilies at Dakeyne Street Lads' Club in Nottingham. As we have seen, this became the model for the Beeston Lads' Club. It is very reasonably priced
at £5.00, with copies available at Waterstones or at www.nottinghambooks.co.uk.
A Summer of Calm Before the Storm - In early July 1914, 114 members and officers of the Beeston Boys Brigade held ther annual camp at a particularly delightful site at East Runton,
near Cromer. All agreed that it was one of the best week's holiday that the company had enjoyed since its first camp in 1910. (Photographs from the 1912 camp at Skegness may be seen by clicking
A fatigue party under Lieutenant J. W. Adams and D. Pearson arrived on the campsite on Monday 29th June to be joined on the Wednesday by six more members
under the command of Staff-Sergeant James Martin; the remainder of the Company left Beeston on Saturday 4th July and arrived at Cromer at 7.20pm in good spirits after
a five-hour journey.
During an eventful week, everyone was able to enjoy the beauty and attractions of the Norfolk coastline. Bathing parades, held every morning before breakfast, were greatly enjoyed,there were outings to
local beauty spots and places of interest and a hike was organised through the beautiful countryside. Drumhead services were held on the Sunday. Football and cricket, as always, were popular pastimes,
in every spare moment and in two organised football matches against local sides. The brass band was much admired and gave a concert for the people of East Runton which was most appreciated.
The camp came to a close on July 11th and the Company arrived back in Beeston 9.10pm, where they marched to the Square and then were dismissed after "God Save the King" and the "Last Post"
sounded by three selected buglers. A full acount of the week appeared in the Beeston Gazette and Echo dated July 18th;
Click here to see the full text.
This was to be the last camp for many of the members of the company and the Old Boys. In less than a month's time, a war that was to begin in which 40 members made the "Supreme Sacrifice"
in the cause of freedom There is little doubt that, in the coming months and years, there would be many that looked back on this happy time they had spent together.
James Martin a member of the fatigue party and Dann Humphreys who attended the camp were part of the first contingent to volunteer for service but were never to return home.
Both were killed in the following year at Gallipoli.
The Call to Arms - by the time Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914, membership of the Beeston Company had reached 300 and there was a very high level of comradeship and
patriotism amongst the membership and its Old Boys' Association. The Old Boys responded to the Country's call immediately - encouraged very actively by Stephen Hetley Pearson. A party of these pals - 27 in all
in this initial contingent - marched from the club to a Recruitment Centre in Nottingham with Captain Pearson, in late August 1914. In all, 24 of this group enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters
"Notts & Derby" Regiment. Their names and their almost sequential service numbers were:
|13850 S Burdett||13851 J Lea||13854 J Paling|
|13858 J W Hart||13859 H Hazzledine||13860 W F Booth|
|13867 H Lee||13870 S C Lee||13873 C A Turton|
|13881 F Ironmonger||13883 W D Humphreys||13901 A Johnson|
|13903 J Martin||13904 A Spencer||13905 A Tebbutt|
|13907 W Brackner||13908 G Brackner||13910 F Hazzledine|
|13919 A Roberts||13933 A Mee||13934 A E Turton|
|14066 A Lowe||14068 H Harper||14069 T Glover|
In addition, two (W Dean and C W Joynes) joined the Army Service Corps. Of this initial contingent, only sixteen would survive the forthcoming holocaust.
Click on the picture on the left to see the Old Boys cricket team, featured on a postcard sent by Stephen Hetley Pearson on 4 September 1914. In the message he writes, "27 of our old Boys
have enlisted, 2 in A.S.C. and 25 in Notts & Derby (9th)...". Those that had enlisted from the team - virtually all of eligible age - he had marked with a cross.
Those that enlisted at this very early stage were to be followed by many more during the four years of the War. The tragedy was that 42 of these fine young men were among those who were never to return. By the end of
1917, this had included Stephen Hetley Pearson himself, killed while serving in France as a Second Lieutenant with the Grenadier Guards. A generation of young men had been decimated.
Those who lost their lives are remembered on a memorial in the Old Boys' headquarters. Stephen Hetley Pearson's cap is also preserved at the Pearson Centre as a memorial to him. The roll of honour below is
intended to be a further memorial to these brave young men who made the Supreme Sacrifice.
Beeston Old Boys - Roll of Honour
Every member who is known to have lost his life is listed here; click any underlined name for more details
1915 - Galipoli
William Daniel HUMPHREYS,
Eric Geoffrey LUNTLEY,
Albert Edward TURTON,
Others in 1915
Wilfred Frank BOOTH,
Cyril Arthur TURTON,
Bernard Henry SPRAY,
Thomas Frederick SWEENEY
Alfred Nathan SIBLEY,
Frank William Val PILMORE,
George Henry GIMSON
John George STAFFORD,
Harry Edward RYALL
Samuel Leonard HARTSHORN,
William Shrewsbury SHARPE,
Ernest Stanley TONKS,
Horace Edward BLACKWELL,
Stephen Hetley PEARSON
1918 & Beyond
William Robert JACKSON,
Thomas William RILEY,
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