by Joe Earp
The Boy’s brigade was founded in 1883 by William Alexander Smith. The 1st Nottingham Company was formed in 1888 in connection with St Andrews Church on Mansfield Road in Nottingham. Beeston was by this time, a fast growing community and during the summer of 1894 the music of a brass band could be heard in the streets leading the 15th Nottingham (Lenton) Company to give a display at the Station Road (then Brown Lane) schools. This was the preliminary to a decision to form a company in Beeston connected with the parish church.
The Beeston Company was enrolled as the 1st Beeston on the 17th May 1895. The original officers were:- Captain: Samuel J Woodcock. Lieutenants: George P Mills, Arthur Atkinson, Henry A Brooks, Stephen Stragham Rogers and Ernest S Rogers. The company met once a week in the mess room of the Humber Cycle Company premises at the bottom of Humber Road, for drill instruction. All members were required to attend the parish church, chapel or Sunday school as there was no bible class on Sundays.
In 1901, the Humber Cycle Company moved to Coventry, the company lost the use of the mess for drill and at the time, Captain Rogers, started looking for new premises for the company. He finally decided to move the headquarters to a seed warehouse at Chilwell, a building close to where Barton’s Garage is. A year later the company suffered a setback when Captain Rogers resigned the Captaincy upon leaving the district. The company declined until, by 1905, to all intents and purposes it ceased to exist.
The 25th of September 1909 saw the formation of the 17th Nottingham (Beeston) Company with Stephen Hetley Pearson as its Captain. It was on that date he 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 joined the company. The first annual inspection was held in the Scotian Mills premises on Saturday 17th May 1910, and it was attended by 180 boys. By early 1911, membership exceeded the 200 mark.
By 1913 a building was specifically erected for the use of the company. Robert Mellors (1916) explains “The building was erected at the cost of over £3, 000 and considerable additions were made in 1915, at a cost of £1,000. In the first effort the boys made a weekly house-to-house collection, resulting in £363 being obtained. When it was opened the premises boasted large rooms for the use of officers and for ‘old boys’, games, a gym, drill and two baths. Upstairs room for a class, non-commissioned officers, and the band. The rooms were furnished with a billiard table, provision for games and a library”.
When the Great War broke out, thirty old boys joined up at once. In April 1916, Captain Hetley Pearson joined up, first in the Northumberland Fusiliers at Gosforth Park, Newcastle-on-Tyne, then later he was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier. In December 1917, the sad news was received that 2nd Lieutenant Stephen Hetley Pearson had fallen while leading his men at the battle of Cambrai. In 1933 a memorial tablet was unveiled in memory of Stephen Hetley Pearson, ‘the founder’ of the Beeston Lad’s Club. It Reads:
This Tablet Is Erected To The Memory Of Stephen Hetley Pearson Of Bramcote, Notts.
The Founder Of The Beeston Lads Club Who Caused To Be Built These Premises For The Use Of The Boys Of Beeston For All Time TO Mark The 25th Anniversary Of The Foundation Of This Club December 1933.
Beeston Lads Club., 1999. Beeston Lads Club: Celebrating 90 Years. Nottingham.
Mellors, R., 1916. Beeston Then and Now. Nottingham.