YMCA has had an involvement with the City of Newcastle for 162 years during which time, the evolution of the Newcastle YMCA has paralleled that of the City.
1844: George Williams, a drapers assistant, founded the YMCA movement in the City of London with the purpose of "the improving of the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery, embroidery and other trades.
1849: Newcastle and Gateshead YMCA wasformed and originally located first floor of 32 Grainger Street, in 1851 it moved to number 53. Lord Carlisle was President with 26 vice presidents and 157 members.
1851: Following links made at the Great Exhibition in London, the YMCA spreads across the globe and YMCAs are established in the USA and Canada.
1852: Newcastle and Gateshead YMCA closes.
1855: The idea of creating a global organisation is pioneered by Henry Dunant, who would later go on to found the International Committee of the Red Cross. He convinced YMCA Paris to organise the first YMCA World Conference, The conference produces the ‘Paris Basis’ – an agreement about the aims of the YMCA. It also sees the launch of an international committee and headquarters, which would, becomes the World Alliance of YMCAs.
1858: Newcastle YMCA opened in Clayton Street and Hood Street. Rev J.C. Bruce was the President and his sarcophagus is in St Nicholas’ Cathedral.
1873: The first YMCA holiday centre is established on the Isle of Wight. Their huge popularity led to another 25 centre being opened. Billy Butlin later adapted the idea by creating purpose build holiday camps.
1879: The American YMCA opens its first gym.
1881: The British YMCA incorporates personal fitness into its programmes and opens its first gym.
1884: YMCA moved its premises to Blackett Street. This original Blackett Street building wasvacated in March 1896. The new Blackett Street building was officially opened on the 9th May, 1900, by the Duke of Connaught. The opening of the new building produced a rise in membership – 97 new members in the month prior to opening, and 607 more in the next 12months.. During the war, Newcastle YMCA like a number of other Associations had a tradition of working with military personnel.
1891: The American YMCA invents basketball and goes on to invent volleyball in 1895.
1894: On the 50th anniversary of the YMCA, George Williams receives a knighthood from Queen Victoria.
1905: The World Alliance of YMCAs celebrates its 50th Anniversary. There are now YMCAs in 45 countries with a global membership of over 707,000. George Williams dies at the age of 83 and is laid to rest in the crypt at St Pauls Cathedral.
1908: The YMCA was an early influence on Scouting and the first scout groups met in the Birkenhead and Nottingham YMCA buildings.
1921: The first purpose built hostels are opened in Cardiff and London.
1914-1918: During the First World War, the YMCA supports the troops. YMCA provides soldiers with food and a place to rest on the frontline or at home in military camps and railway stations. The YMCA embarks on a massive education programme for soldiers, which eventually becomes the Arm Education Corps. The red poppy is introduced by an American YMCA worker and goes on to become a worldwide symbol of remembrance for those lost in the World Wars.
1915: Fire broke out in the upper storey of the Blackett Street Headquarters.
1916-1927: A YMCA employment department is set up in England to deal with unemployment. It finds job for 38,000 ex-servicemen.
1919: The first boys club in Newcastle was opened by the YMCA on Fenckle Street and a second in Gateshead.
1925: Bank calls in the overdraft of £2,000and the Trustees rent the frontage for advertising and raise £200.
1932: The YMCA sets up the ‘British Boys for British Farms’ initiative which benefits 25,000 young people.
1933: YMCA raises £4,600 over 6 days tomove the boys club to new premises inMaple Terrace.
1939: The Second World War. Post war: 1400 people per month were accommodated in a city centre YMCA hostel up to 1955.
1943: Blackett street mortgage repaid.
1945: During the Second World War, the YMCA introduces mobile canteens, bringing refreshment to the troops. It also supports displaced people, refugees and prisoners of war.
1954: Boys Club affiliated to NABC 50s and 60s reserves are constantly topped by gifts from ex members.
1964 Blackett Street premises were sold to a London developer for £325,000 and leased back to the YMCA at £4,000 PA.
1970: YMCA George Williams College is established in London, providing training programmes for professional youth workers. Today, the college is one of the leading trainers in informal education. 1970’s. During the 1970’s, the YMCA increases its emphasis on young people most in need, focusing on homelessness and unemployment. YMCA Training for Life is launched, in response to high unemployment among young people. This results in the creation of YMCA Training – one of the UK’s leading vocational training organisations. YMCA Training has supported over a million people to date.
1972: Blackett Street was demolished in September 1972, and Eldon Square was built. The curved frontage of the Boots store reflects the shape of the previous YMCA building.
1973: Ellison place was built and opened to replace the Blackett Street building – it was located in a square with Northumbria – opposite MEA house with Newcastle Polytechnic on alternative sides.
1970s and early 1980s: Membership fell from 1161 to 500 and the activities clubs and societies closed.
1984: YCare International, the oversees development agency of the YMCA in the UK and Ireland is established. Today it supports projects for vulnerable young people in over 20 counties worldwide.
1985: Ellison Place is leased to Northumbria for a period of 5 years. Later extended to 25 years and expires in June 2015.
1985 – 1987: Offices only and research report into the needs of young people in the city.
1988: Project 10 at Cruddas Park opens.
1989: Walker Detached Youth Project opens.
1995: Byker Neighbourhood Project opens.
1996: Project 10 Project closes.
1996: YMCA Student Project opens.
1999: Blakelaw Detached Youth Project opens.
2004: YMCA Student Project and Blakelaw Detached Youth Project close.
During the 162 years of its existence, Newcastle YMCA has moved from an organisation focused on education, to one devoted to evangelism, to one that toyed with becoming a welfare provider, to a leisure service and now to its current manifestation – as a provider of opportunities and activities to young people between the ages of 13-25 to improve their development.
The YMCA has over 45 million members in 125 countries worldwide. Since it was established, the YMCA has adapted to the changing needs of young people.
Today it works with young men and women regardless of race, religion or culture. In every corner of the world, the YMCA is helping young people to build a future.
Newcastle upon Tyne YMCA History
England YMCA History