Did you know?

Many interesting and possibly little-known facts about the 3rd Enfield Company, the Enfield Battalion and the local area. Many thanks go to Robert Wilson for compiling this list.

The 1st Enfield Company, registered in 1888, is the second oldest surviving Boys’ Brigade Company in the London District; only the 5th London Company (1887) is older. The 2nd and 3rd Enfield Companies are joint fourth oldest with the 1st Barnet Company (1891), just behind the 1st Warley Company (1890).

Members of the 1st and 3rd Enfield Companies provided all clear buglers during the First World War to give the residents of Enfield a signal that the Zeppelin raids had finished. Dr Ridge was in charge of the Bugle Team.

The 3rd Enfield Bugle Band in 1957 made BB history at the Royal Albert Hall by being the first display item to record an encore demanded by the audience. This was in response to the bugle piece Swingtime, written by Ray Barnes.

The Olympic athlete and TV presenter Kriss Akabusi was once a member of the 2nd Enfield Company.

One batch of red ties for the 3rd Enfield Company came from one of Her Majesty’s prisons.

Former Captain of the 3rd Enfield, Ron Langhorn, went on in later life to perform magic shows, and had dealing with famous members of the magic circle such as Paul Daniels.

The 2nd Enfield Brass Band appeared on Blue Peter in 1979 promoting the First For Boys Campaign. The BB had a helium filled balloon, which was used to advertise the Boys’ Brigade. The 2nd Enfield Brass Band played the tune “Those magnificent men in their flying machines” in the legendary Blue Peter garden.

Steve Wakeford performed a solo of the Anchor Song on the 1983 BB Centenary album and at the 1983 Royal Albert Hall Display.

In 1914 the 3rd Enfield provided the Guard of Honour at St Paul’s Cathedral for Sir William Alexander Smith’s funeral. They stood there with their rifles reversed. Alfred Winsley was one of the pallbearers of the coffin. In 1985 a plaque was unveiled to Sir William Alexander Smith in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the funeral in 1914. The 3rd Enfield was present on this occasion as joint winners of the Daily Telegraph Shield that year with the 1st Enfield.

Mr Norris Storer Toms, the founder of the 3rd Enfield, was an apiarist. An apiarist is a person who keeps bees.

The son of Peter Williams, former Captain and Bandmaster of the 1st Enfield, was an actor in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire. David Williams played Ernest Liddell, the brother to Eric Liddell, the Scottish 400 yards Olympic champion in 1924, who refused to run on a Sunday due to his religious beliefs. David Williams has the acting name David John in films.

There is a road named after the Plowman family. The road is called Plowman Close and is located in the Silver Street area of Edmonton. The road is quite close to North Middlesex Hospital.

In 1977 a book was published called “Youth, Empire and Society” by John Springhall (Lecturer in History at the New University of Ulster). The book was about the history of the British Youth Movements, 1883-1940. Chapter five of the book, entitled “Local Youth In Uniform” was devoted to the youth movements of Enfield. The book looks at the social background of the people of Enfield, and details the Boys’ Brigade in Enfield, including the 3rd Enfield.

The 1st and 3rd Enfield Companies appeared in the 50th Devonshire Cup final at the Royal Albert Hall in 1973. The test piece was appropriately the march “Devonshire”.

The Battalion was affected by terrible weather at the 1912 annual summer camp at Dymchurch.

In 1988 Steve Crabb of the 7th Enfield Company represented Great Britain at the 1500 metres for Men at the Seoul Olympics. He was one of the athletes who replaced Sebastian Coe, who was defending the Olympic championship. Steve Crabb was eliminated in the early rounds.

The 3rd Enfield Company was the very first winner of the Daily Telegraph Shield in 1906. The following year they won the competition again; Captain Plowman received the Shield from the Guest of Honour who was Robert Baden-Powell. Later that year Baden-Powell would hold the famous Brownsea Island Camp, which in turn gave birth to the Scouting movement.

King George VI asked one of the 3rd Enfield boys on parade at the 1943 Diamond Jubilee review at Windsor Castle why he was wearing a red tie.

In 1978 at the Royal Albert Hall display the drummer Dominic Beech did unrehearsed somersault over his drum as he entered the arena with the band!

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Enfield Companies are most likely the oldest surviving 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Companies in The Boys’ Brigade. In the early days the three Companies were called the United Enfield Companies and had their headquarters in a premise in Lancaster Road (opposite Budgens).

In 1979 the 3rd Enfield won the London District Individual Bugle Competition with Robert Tovey. The following year the 2nd Enfield won the same title with Mark Clarvis, and then the following year Adrian Marlow of the 1st Enfield did likewise!

When a Zeppelin was shot down over the northern part of Enfield at the end of the First World War, Dr R Leslie Ridge of the 1st Enfield was one of the first people on the scene.

On a cold December evening in 1961, Robert Bird, a member of the Enfield Boys’ Brigade was cycling along Bell Lane (Enfield Highway) heading for his BB meeting when he sighted a pair of lights speeding towards him from the opposite direction. As they got closer they suddenly swerved across the road and headed straight at him. Convinced that an out of control vehicle was about to run him over, Robert attempted to get out of its path. But it was too late and he braced himself for the inevitable impact. The vehicle was infact a black coach, being pulled by four horses that were being spurred on by two shadowy figures. But the strangest of all was the fact that the carriage was actually travelling four or five feet off the ground. But then, just as the coach was about to hit him, it passed straight through him and vanished. What Robert witnessed was the so-called “Phantom Coach of Enfield”, a ghostly conveyance that races along Bell Lane, its wheels above the ground, although their noise and that of the horses’ hooves are clearly audible. This story of the Enfield BB boy is a well-known ghost story of London and often appears in collections of feature articles on haunted London. Enfield does seem to have several ghost stories linked to different parts of the Borough.

The 3rd Enfield had a great year when they celebrated their Golden Jubilee in 1940; they won the top trophy in the London District, the Daily Telegraph Shield.

At the London District Display at the Royal Albert Hall during the BB Centenary year of 1983, one of the chief guests was Sir Cliff Richard. During his speech the Enfield Battalion was mentioned.

Captain Thomas Plowman was one of the very first people to die in 1920s. Mr Plowman passed away in the early hours of the morning of 1st January 1920.

The massed bands of the 3rd Enfield, 4th London and 73rd London Companies played at the 1972 at the Football League Cup Final.

Charles Chopping was a member of the 3rd Enfield for an incredible 72 years and had a very distinguished history with the Company. He joined the Company in 1894 as a Private. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1904, he was three times Company Captain and was President of Company until his death on the 22nd March 1966 aged 82. He was witness to the success that the Company had during the early years of the 20th Century with Captain Plowman.

In 1970 the 3rd Enfield appeared on stage with Cliff Richard at the Top Squad event, held at Wembley.

The Enfield Battalion Athletics Cup was first presented by Mr W H Brown in 1893, and is the oldest Battalion competition trophy in London. The 3rd Enfield Company was the first winner of the trophy. The event was held in a field where Chase Side Primary School now stands in Trinity Street.

In 1982 the Great Britain Post Office issued a series of stamps on Youth Organisations. One of the stamps featured The Boys’ Brigade; on the stamp was picture a drummer with a Church in the background. The “unofficial” model for the drummer was Gary Jordan of the 1st Enfield. At that time no living person was allowed to be on a stamp with The Queen. If you look closely at the drum on the stamp you can see the word “Enfield” on the 1st Enfield blue drum.

On 30th January to 1st February 1897, the founder of The Boys’ Brigade, Sir William Alexander Smith, visited the Enfield Battalion. The 3rd Enfield held a number of events during the course of the visit, including a sword drill.

Paul Manning of the 2nd Enfield was the winner of the Grange Hill competition run by Blue Peter in the early 1980s. Paul wrote the outline of a story for the Grange Hill Christmas special that year. He not only appeared on Blue Peter, but also had a brief appearance in the Grange Hill Christmas special. David Williams of the 1st Enfield also appeared on Blue Peter in the early 1970s demonstrating his musical abilities.

At the 1897 summer camp at Hayling Island, the 3rd Enfield witnessed the famous Spit-head review in Portsmouth Harbour. A vast number of ships had assembled in the Harbour to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. After 10 o’clock at night all the ships had their lights on; it was an incredible sight.

The famous Hollywood actor Boris Karloff was a local resident to Enfield Chase. His real name was William Pratt and he was a very good cricket player. His name appears in the 1901 Census, when he was 14. Boris Karloff did return to Enfield in the 1930s for a visit.

The programme for the 1986 Royal Albert Hall Display featured six members of the 3rd Enfield Company on the front cover.

Congregationalists, such as Dr J J Ridge, Rev H S Toms, and Thomas R Plowman, refused to pay part of their Poor Rates as an act of “passive resistance” to the 1902 Education Act which compelled them to support Voluntary Church Schools from the rates.

In 1967, Enfield was the first place in the world to have cash point machine installed into a bank. This machine was in use in the Enfield Town branch of Barclays Bank, next to the market place.

At the 1983 BB Centenary Display at the Royal Albert Hall, the West Kent Battalion staged a reconstruction of the very first Daily Telegraph Shield final of 1906, using old style uniforms. At the end of the item the West Kent Battalion paid tribute the 3rd Enfield as the very first winners of the Shield in 1906, with a salute.

In 1906, W Lovett of the 1st Enfield set a record for the “throwing the cricket ball” event with a distance of 94 yards at the annual Enfield Battalion Inspection and Sports in the Enfield Town Park. Amazingly this record stood until 1948, when at the Diamond Jubilee Enfield Battalion Inspection and Sports day in June, Roy Markwell of the 1st Enfield, set a new record on his third throw of 103 yards 1 foot and 3 inches.

Dr J J Ridge, founder of the 1st Enfield, first heard about The Boys’ Brigade through a supplement to the Sunday School Chronicles, 11th May 1888, which discussed the pros and cons of the organisation.

Martyn Stogden of the 3rd Enfield was one of the winners of the BBC Jackanory poetry competition in the late 1970s. A picture of Martyn was shown and his poem read out on TV. Martyn appeared on ITV in the late 1990s with Michael Barrymore in the Croydon Shopping Centre, playing the theme tune to Dallas on a garden hose!

The 2nd and 3rd Enfield Companies were registered on the same day, 29th January 1891. The story goes that both Companies experienced pressure to register their respective Companies as full BB Companies. On rushing up to London the man from the 2nd Enfield caught the train, but the man from the 3rd missed the train. There is no proof this is true, but the fact the Companies are registered on the same day could suggest there is some truth in the story?

In 1970 the 2nd Enfield experienced a coach crash during their annual Summer Camp in August. One of the boys went through the front window screen, but amazingly was not seriously hurt. Glen Perry actually did a gymnastic dive through the window when the accident occurred which saved his life and kept the injuries to only minor ones.

The first man to break the four-minute mile barrier, Sir Roger Bannister, presented the Devonshire Cup to the 3rd Enfield at the 1956 Royal Albert Hall Display.

The Company experienced terrible weather at the 1956 and 1969 summer camps.

The daughter of James Keir Hardie, the first parliamentary leader of the Labour Party, was a member of Christ Church.

The Company colour of the 1st Enfield is blue. This comes from the fact that boys at Public Schools would wear a blue ribbon on their clothing to indicate they were teetotal. This sign of abstinence from alcohol was an inspiration to the Ridge family when they started the 1st Enfield Company in 1888.

In 1910, Dr R L Ridge, Captain of the 1st Enfield, had to deal with a mutiny in the Company. He dismissed 19 of the demonstrators from the Company.

Thomas Plowman was only 16 when he became Captain of the 3rd Enfield.

The famous writer Thomas Hardy was married for the second time in St Andrew’s Church in the Town.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 during the Battalion Summer Camp held at Felixstowe. Some of the leaders were detained in a Martello tower, while the boys were sent home.

The Brigade President Lord Thurso attended the 3rd Enfield Centenary celebrations over the weekend of 1st to 3rd December 1990. Part of the celebrations involved a dinner and dance at Forty Hall and a special Church Parade.

The son of the founder and Brigade Secretary, Captain Stanley Smith, attended the 3rd Enfield Golden Jubilee celebrations at the Church Hall in December 1939.

The Boys’ Brigade has a medal called the “Cross of Heroism” and is awarded to boys who perform brave deeds. The 1st Enfield has one of these medals won by one of its members in 1904. Private James Conway was swimming with his younger brother in the River Lea when he noticed his brother was in difficulty. James swam to his rescue and managed to get near enough to the edge for his father to seize hold of the younger boy’s hand and pull him to safety. However, James was now exhausted and fell back into deep water and was drowned. Because of his keenness and loyalty to the BB the parents requested that the Company should keep the medal as a memorial to their sons bravery.

The Daily Telegraph Shield remained in Enfield throughout the whole of the Second World War, as between the 1st and 3rd Enfield Companies, they won the Shield for each of the war years.

The 3rd Enfield first won the Devonshire Cup for Bugle Bands in 1956 with the march “Royal Albert Hall”. Then in 1972 they won the title again with the same march! The programme for that display featured the music score to the march “Royal Albert Hall” on the front cover.

A bust of the founder of the 1st Enfield Company, Dr J J Ridge, is housed in the Doctors Surgery in Tenniswood Road, Enfield.

The 3rd Enfield Company hymn goes:

We are soldiers of Christ, who is mighty to save,
And his banner, the cross, is unfurled:
We are pledged to be faithful, and stedfast and brave,
Against Satan, the flesh, and the World.

We are brothers and comrades, we stand side by side,
And our faith and our hope are the same:
And we think of the cross on which Jesus has died,
When we hear the reproach of his name.

Now let each cheer his comrade, let hearts beat as one,
While we follow where Christ leads the way:
‘Twere dishonour to yield or the battle to shun,
We will fight, and will watch, and will pray.

Though the warfare be weary, the trial be sore,
In the might of our god we will stand:
Oh what joy to be crowned and be pure evermore,
In the peace of our own Fatherland-Amen.