Boys Brigade Festival of Britain Run May 1951


The Olympic celebrations this year and the carrying of the Olympic Flame by 8,000 people across the UK, encouraged Marilyn House to find this celebration booklet of a similar event in 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain.

An extract  from the booklet tells us:-


The avowed purpose of the Festival of Britain was “to put on show to the world, as a token of thanksgiving for her past and as a testimony of faith in her future”.

As an integral part of the national life,  The Boys’ Brigade decided to take the lead in youth Festival activities with an enterprise in which hundreds of cities, towns and villages could participate.


And so was born the B. B. Festival  of Britain Run, with relays of Boy runners carrying a Message of Loyal Greeting to His Majesty the King, Patron of the Brigade. The Message, contained in a silver Baton, was carried day and night on five Routes, by a series of Bearers, accompanied by two runners as Escort, each Bearer with the Escort covering four miles. Over 2,190 Runners took part, and they covered a total distance of 2,537 miles. In accordance with B.B. tradition, the Run was halted on Sundays and the Batons were formally deposited in the Town Halls , of Elgin, Harrogate, Liverpool and Torquay.


All along the routes there were Ceremonial Transfers as the Baton was handed over, and the Roll of Bearers signed in turn by every Boy who took custody of the Message. B. B. Guards of Honour and Bands were on parade and great crowds witnessed these ceremonies.


The first Runners set off on Thursday 26th April from John o’Groats on the Northern Route which was the longest of them all. This Route took in Mansfield. The other Routes started on 1st,  4th, 7th and 8th of May.


The run reached its climax in brilliant sunshine on the 10th May at Buckingham Palace, where the final Bearers and their Escorts handed to his Majesty the Batons which had been surely and steadfastly carried from the five corners of the United Kingdom.


Pictured signing the Roll of Bearers is Ivan Dickinson, a sergeant in the 1st Company Mansfield Boys’ Brigade. He is watched by the Mayor of Mansfield Ald., German Abott and other dignitaries. (Information from a news cutting).


The Memories of Yesteryear news cutting carries the words ‘ it shows Mr Barry Wetton, right and other members of Warsop Boys Brigade taking part in a relay that passed through Mansfield Market Place………   The Brian the arrow  is pointing to is Brian Thompson.


Inscription in the booklet certifying that Sgt Brian Thompson was one of the two runners from the 5th Mansfield Coy honoured by being selected to carry the Message from Pleasley to Mansfield. Signed J H Barlow Capt 5th Mansfield BB Coy


Comments about this page

  • My Father Tom Morgan was captain of the 15th Cardiff Boys Brigade during the time the Festival of Britain message to the King from the Boys Brigade  in Wales reached Cardiff. I have several photographs and newspaper cuttings if any one is interested. The baton was handed over to the 15th Company from the 23rd Company on 8th May 1951.GBRRE

    By Lyn Jones (08/01/2018)
  • Hi Being a King’s Badge Holder in the 3rd West Essex I was in the Guard of Honour to the King at Buckingham Palace. I still have the letter from the West Essex Battalion Secretary asking the school to grant me time off from 9am to 5pm on Thursday 10th May 1951

    Roy Salvage 

    By ROY ALFRED SALV AGE (12/03/2017)
  • My brother and I went there, we done a boxing show, I was a boxing post and my brother Norman was sparring in the ring. Then from there we went down to the Royal Albert Hall to do the same in front of our future Queen. What a privilege.


    By John Parcell (25/09/2015)
  • Hi! I was also a 1st Turriff Co the Boys Brigade Aberdeenshire runner, carrying the Silver Baton with the message to the King, for the Festival of Britain, I am now 78 still Quite Fit and still have my large Vest BB runners Badge and Booklet that we were given (with a mouse eaten hole in it) I also have a good photo taken of the 8 runners which took part in our section of the run.

    Proud to have taken part in the relay run

    Lawrie Harvey


    By Mr L Harvey (20/07/2014)
  • I was a member of 1st magheramason, Boys Brigade, in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and  was selected to receive the Baton on the steps of the Guildhall in Londonderry, at 9.30pm on 1st May, 1951, and convey it approximately four miles to Caw Brae, on the outskirts of the city, and safely deliver it to a fresh bearer. Like Eric Taylor, I to am 78 yrs young and alsoregret the loss of my vest and badge many years ago.      At present I am trying to find a photograph of the signing of the register ect on the steps of the Guildhall, but I am having difficulty.   I am aware that photographs were taken at the time, but I did not receive a copy.

    Happy days,

    Jas. Doherty.


    By James doherty (19/06/2014)
  • I am the daughter of Robert Alexander Darroch Taylor who passed away on the 18th August 2012.I am in receipt of the letter that was presented to his school headmaster asking for him to be excused from school on the afternoon of Thursday 3rd May 1951 from 12.30 p.m.The letter outlines that he was one of the boys chosen to deliver “A Loyal Message to H.M.” along five routes from John O’Groates,Land’s End,Cromer,Llanelly and Londonderry finishing at Buckingham Palace on the 13th May 1951.

    By Susan Taylor (13/09/2012)
  • Hi, I am at a loss to understand why when I see the route that the Festival message took, as to why there is no sign of the run having any contact with Lancashire towns, as although I came from Birkenhead on the other side of the Mersey I was selected to take part in the run. As this was 71 years ago and while I can’t be sure were we ran from and were we finished my memory tells me that it invlved either the districts of Ormskirk or Skelmersdale which were then under the county of Lancashire, so you can understand why I am confused. What a difference it was then when the only transport with us most of the run was the car that took us to the start then picked us up and took us home. It is nice however to read about this event after all thes years as I’m 78 now and the only regret I have is that my vest with the badge sewed on disappeared later in life as it would have been good to show my great grandchildren and grandchildren a memento from that era. Regards, Eric Taylor

    By Eric Taylor (30/05/2012)
  • Hello Eric, good to hear you also took part in this event. Only one of the five routes have been included in the above page, the one with Mansfield in! The route you took part in was ‘From The North West’ starting at Londonderry 9.30pm Tuesday 1st May. On part of the route the ‘message’ travelled by boat from Belfast to Greenock. I cannot include all the places here but it did go through Southport, Bootle, Liverpool and Manchester etc. Hope this helps put your memory to rest.

    By Pauline Marples (30/05/2012)

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