Our History

As we’ve been around since 1926, 1st Bletchley has had quite a rich history, being part of the wider story of Spurgeon Baptist Church and the local community in Bletchley (and beyond)! This means that we have lots of old(er) ex-members who are still around today. If you are one of them, then please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

Below is a quick whistle-stop tour of our journey as a Company…

Spurgeon Memorial Church in Aylesbury Street

In 1926, Rev. Arthur Dalton and the church deacons of Spurgeon’s began to explore the merits of the various uniformed organisations, out of concern that the children were leaving Sunday School at the age of 14, thinking it was too childish. Eventually they decided in the middle of 1926 on The Boys’ Life Brigade, apparently ignorant of the fact that in a few months time, the organisation was due to be amalgamated with The Boys’ Brigade. Thus it came about that the 1st Bletchley Company was the very last BLB Company to be offcially enrolled, on 27th September, 1926. Amalgamation came four days later, on 1st October. At that time, Spurgeon’s was located in Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford, which then also became the home of the 1st Bletchley Company.

The War Years
Salters Hall Baptist Church

The call-up of Officers for the Second World War caused the closing down of many Companies, including Olney and Newport Pagnell. The 1st Bletchley survived, because the captain was a Christian Pacifist, went before a tribunal and was given unconditional exemption from military service. Gas masks became a compulsory part of the uniform. Most under-14 members of the 45th London Company, Salters Hall Baptist Church, in Islington were evacuated to Bletchley and 1st Bletchley officers decided to run the 45th as a separate, temporary Company.

Moving to a new home
WECC – The New Home of Spurgeon’s and 1st Bletchley

By 1985, the Baptist Church building was in a poor state, with a large sum of money needed for essential repairs. St Frideswide’s Church of England, on the other hand, had a practically new, but very small church standing at the Water Eaton junction of five roads and just next to the Lakes Estate. So the sale proceeds from the Aylesbury Street church site and the BB club site were used to extend the St Frideswide’s building, adding the Youth Hall, the BB Room and ancillary rooms, rooms we still use today! The Water Eaton Church Centre was born.

The Royal Wedding of 2011 – ‘you are invited…’

Through the Boys’ Brigade, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 1st Bletchley, only made up of the Captain and two Juniors that day, managed to snap up a spot on Horse Guard’s parade, as well as leading the crowds down the mall to Buckingham Palace. A perfect spot to view the procession from!

‘1st Bletchley’s Got Talent’

In September 2011, a special evening was organised by the 1st Bletchley Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade to celebrate the retirement of Bill Bond, one of the longest serving members of the 1st Bletchley Company. The evening included a wide variety of talents, including who could eat a donut in the fastest time with only their mouth!

The ‘Youth Crew’ Experiment
Youth Crew Logo

Due to low numbers and a staff shortage in the Company Section, Youth Crew commenced in October 2015 – a non-uniformed section serving young teens, where it would be up to the members to create the programme. There were certainly some memorable results, including a charity ‘Big Brew’ event and a life-sized hungry hippos game. However, Youth Crew eventually came to an end in 2018 and Company Section recommenced.

The Girls’ Association is born
The girls now join the boys at an event at BB HQ

Sadly, after talks to try and find a way forward, the 1st Bletchley Girls Brigade, which was formed alongside the Boys’ Brigade, came to an end in 2016. Shortly after, 1st Bletchley launched the Girls’ Association, which now meant that girls (who previously could only join Amicus), could now be a part of the company.

1st Bletchley Celebrates 90 years!

In October 2016, the 1st Bletchley Company turned 90. Such a milestone could only be celebrated with cake of course.

Happy Birthday 1st Bletchley!
Covid-19: 1st Bletchley goes virtual

It was certainly a challenge to keep the Company up and running during the pandemic, but we are proud of how our staff and members adapted so quickly! Weekly sessions took place over Zoom, with a new ‘BBatHome’ programme from BB HQ, designed so members could complete activities at home, to then provide feedback in the virtual sessions. Gradually, as lockdown restrictions eased, in-person meetings started taking place again in the gardens at the back of the church, culminating in a celebratory end of year BBQ in July 2021. Below is a video showing what members got up to in the first few months of lockdown…