Soham Brigade


History of Soham Brigade

Soham Boys Brigade Hall opening, Paddock Street. 

The Boys Brigade in Soham had been formed c.1925, originally using a room lent to them by Mr. Roger Clark at the Mill, (Lion Mills), what was described as cold and draughty, at the time the Soham Brigade were busy raising money for missionary work, some of this money was used later on to help towards their fund for a new hall in Paddock Street, it was also reported that a lot of support was given from the general public of Soham towards this fund. 

Money was raised in different ways, such as £60 from a fete, they had organised, the purchase price of the hall was £550 of which £250 had been paid by the time of the opening of the new hall, the other £300 to be paid a week later, two friends of the Soham Brigade  had loaned £100 each, free of interest, and a Lady from Yarmouth £50.

Wednesday 9th October 1929, two days after the Church Hall was opened, was a red letter day in the annals of the progressive Soham Boys Brigade, for it was on this day that the realisation of a long hoped for scheme, the opening of a hall for the Brigade, came into being.

The Brigade, although only 29 strong, had worked very hard under its Captain ( Mr. Thompson ) and had raised £250 in a very short period of time, thanks to the generosity of the residents of Soham. The new hall cost £550 and was formerly Cutlacks and Harlocks brewery in Paddock Lane, ( known as Paddock Street today ) as pictured above, now in residential use, but was purchased of a Mr. Newman. It was described at the time as being, ''a spacious, well lighted room, having been distempered and renovated, should provide an excellent accommodation for the boys in their work and training.''

The opening ceremony was performed by the Rev. L. Vining, The National Executive Committee members, Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol, and Chaplain of the Bristol Battalion. The Rev. Vining was met in Paddock Lane by the members of the Brigade, who accompanied him to the door of the building, where after a short prayer, he unlocked the door and allowed all those present to enter. Among those seated on the platform in the hall were the Rev. L. Vining, M.A. (Bristol), Captain S.T. Thompson (1st Soham Boys Brigade), Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Fisk, Mr. and Mrs. Churley, Mrs. B.W. Owen, Mrs. W. Pollard, Mr. Dimmock, Mr. and Mrs. F. Butcher, Mrs. J.C. Platt, Mr. Palmer, Rev. L. Mason, Mrs. Roger Clark, and Mr. Harwood (1st Mid. Suffolk Brigade). Mr. Roger Clark was to have the chair, but couldn't make the opening, the Rev. Vining then making a speech. 

Refreshments were given by the parents and friends of the Soham Brigade, a  concert was also given in the hall later on in the day, by Mr. B. Ash, Mr. J. Connell and Captain R. Goddard of Ipswich, Miss Reader of Fordham and Mr. C.W. Crouch of Soham. unfortunately they were unable to accommodate some hundred or so visitors at their opening concert, but their tickets were reserved for a later Brigade concert that they hoped to have about three weeks later.  A competition for guessing the name of a doll, given by Mrs King was organised, and as no one guessed the name correctly it was sold by mock auction and realised 10s. for the funds. A prize draw was also arranged, the winners were, 1st. Mrs Howlett, Newmarket, a sovereign given by a well wisher, 2nd. Miss F. Barber of Soham Fen, a half sovereign by a well wisher, 3rd. Mrs. R. Craven of Ely, a copper and brown vase, given by a Mrs. A. Hobbs, 4th. Mr. H. Pollard of Soham, a suitcase donated by A Friend, 5th. Mr. J. Reed of Soham, 100 cigarettes donated by Mr. J. Pollard, 6th. Miss Slack of Soham, a box of handkerchiefs donated by Mrs. L. Frost, 7th. F. R. Jolly of Cambridge, a flash lamp donated by Mr. A. Rawlings, 8th. Miss Collens of Fen School an electric torch donated by Mr. G. Pollard, 9th.Mrs. R. Banyard of Soham a box of confectionary donated by Mrs. C. Mann. 

The Boys Brigade sought to supplement the home, the Church and to provide for boys in their free time, it was said that boys needed some provision, and boys like grown ups, had their gangs, and if grown up people did not provide one, the boys would provide one themselves, the Boys Brigade looked after everything as far as the boys religion was concerned. Some people thought the Brigade was a military organisation because they had drills, but this was not what it was about, the Boys Brigade was only military in that it sought to enlist soldiers in Jesus Christ,  it was also said in Soham that if the people could get out and drill once a week like the boys, it would be a very good thing. 

The Rev. P.F. Boughey (vicar of St. Andrews Church) at the time, congratulated the Brigade in possessing such a fine hall, and said he hoped the work which would be carried on in the hall would be developed in all branches, they had he understood, been assisted by nearly everyone in Soham, a fact which, he thought, augured well for the future of the Brigade. 

Soham History Doc.