Obituary: John Methven, former captain of 4th Kirkcaldy BB and a BB member for 80 years

John Methven MBE, a Boys’ Brigade member for 80 years, and captain of Kirkcaldy’s famous 4th company for 29 years, has died aged 94.

He had also been an outstanding footballer in his youth but his aspirations to play professionally were cut short by injury.

In his working life, John operated a coach-building business in Leven and held the BMC franchise to convert its saloon cars to hatchbacks for its customers in Scotland.

Just before his death, John completed his memoirs, which have now been published by his friend Tom Harris.

John joined the 4th company in 1934 when its membership was close to 800 boys and around 50 officers.

John Methven with visiting Dutch Boys’ Brigade members in the 1970s.

Kirkcaldy’s 4th company  was unique because it was the size of most area battalions. Instead of companies, there were platoons attached to mother churches.

The reason for this was rooted in the tragedy of the Somme.

During the First World War, the 4th’s Captain Harris Lawrence Stocks, enlisted in the Royal Scots and was commissioned as a major.

He was killed at the Somme in 1917 and posthumously awarded the DSO.

Major Stocks had been predeceased by his wife and daughter and so left Victoria Halls and £25,000 to the 4th Kirkcaldy Boys’ Brigade company.

St John’s platoon football team with John Methven, fourth from right in front row.

One condition of the bequest was that the boys maintain Major Stocks’ tombstone at Bennochy cemetery. Major Stocks was a member of a prominent Kirkcaldy ship-owning family.

As a consequences of the large donation, worth £2.3 million in today’s money, the Kirkcaldy companies merged to share facilities.

John Bissett Methven was born in Kirkcaldy, where his father was a machine man at the McIntosh furniture firm before a move to the blacksmith shop at Nairn of Kirkcaldy.

Officers of the 4th Kirkcaldy Boys’ Brigade company in its jubilee year in 1955. John Methven is fourth from right, in the second back row.

He was educated at Dunnikier School, then Kirkcadly High School, before starting work as a sheet metal work with a firm called Inglis. His wage was 48p a week in 1941.

As the war wore on, John went to work in St Monans where minesweepers were being built.

He later started an apprenticeship with Alexander’s bus garage, while doing fire watching duty at nights.

Football coaching

It was during the war that John received the injury that would end his playing career  but he went on to coach successive Boys’ Brigade sides.

Over many years, John was in charge of the St John’s platoon, attached to St Brycedale Church.

He went on to lead the entire company from 1986 until 2015.

In 2015, when John stood down as captain, a service of thanksgiving was held to mark his 80-year commitment to The Boys’ Brigade.

An exhibition of uniforms and memorabilia from over the decades was also staged at Bennochy Church in his honour.

His funeral will take place at Bennochy Church, Kirkcaldy, on Monday, September 27, at 3.30pm.

Copies of his memoirs are available form Harris Insurance, 250 Dunearn Drive, Templehall Shopping Centre, Kirkcaldy.

You can read the formal announcement here.

Kirkcaldy – The Courier