History of YMCA
YMCA is over 170 years old yet our mission today is as relevant as it was in 1844. From humble beginnings in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, YMCA has grown to be the largest and oldest youth charity in the world whilst still remaining true to the principles of why Sir George Williams founded the charity – the desire to love, support and develop those around us.
YMCAs have had the privilege of being around for so long because they have constantly adapted to the needs of the communities in which they serve.
This approach is one which enables YMCA to truly reflect the needs of our society – not through top down direction but by responding at a grass roots level; by listening to the young people and families. Click here to read about our youth-led projects.
History of YMCA Bournemouth
The first mention of a YMCA in Bournemouth was in a national report produced in 1879. In these early days it was housed in rented rooms above the J E Beale shop in Old Christchurch Road.
In the early 1880’s it moved to rented accommodation in St Peter’s Road and the work gradually expanded, with the Cairns Memorial Hall, named after Earl Cairns, being completed in 1886. In those days the total cost of operating was just £1,500pa.
By the early 1900’s a hostel had been completed, one of the first gymnasiums in the country had been added.
YMCA Bournemouth took quite a big step in 1921 when with aid of a mortgage of £5,500 they bought the freehold of the premises in St Peter’s Road. In 1930 those premises were sold on and the current site that stretches between Westover Road and Hinton Road was purchased.
The first five floors of the front part of this new development were erected with HRH Princess Mary laying the foundation stone on 28th June 1930.
The building cost the princely sum of £37,500! A fundraising campaign for the new building was started and as part of this, Princess Helena Victoria came to open a bazaar. Some 20 years later in 1955 there was another royal visit when the Princess Royal, Princess Mary daughter of King George V came to Bournemouth.