The YMCA Movement in England is one of the largest youth charities in the country. From small beginnings the YMCA Movement has grown to become one of the biggest Christian charities in the world working in over 120 countries with 30 million members worldwide.
George Williams formed the first YMCA, in London in 1844. Since then the YMCA has grown to have over 148 Local Associations of which Wolverhampton is one of them. The central purpose of all YMCAs is to meet the needs of young people particularly in times of need and regardless of their gender race, ability or faith.
YMCA begins to spread across the globe, as YMCAs are established in the USA and Canada.
YMCA leaders meet in Paris and agree the founding ‘first principle’ for YMCAs across the world, the Paris Basis.
The American YMCA opens its first gym.
West Bromwich & District YMCA was formed in 1888 and met in St Michael’s Street, with the aim to “bring the young men of the town together by organising Bible and prayer meetings coupled with physical activities.
The American YMCA invents basketball and goes on to invent volleyball in 1895.
The first YMCA in Wolverhampton was based in Darlington Street in the former School of Art building.
(Image courtesy of Wolverhampton City Archives)
The first purpose built hostels are built in London and Cardiff.
During World War I, the British YMCA extends its work across the Channel to support the troops
Walsall YMCA is known to have been operational. General Ironmongers Mr FB Shuffrey being the Chairman and Treasurer.
YMCA sets up the British Boys for British Farms initiative which benefits 25,000 young people.
YMCA continues its war work and mobile canteens are introduced to bring refreshments to the troops.
Many English YMCAs start opening youth clubs to promote young people’s personal development.