The Beginning


YMCA was founded by Sir George Williams – a worker in the drapery trade in London. Concerned about the welfare of his fellow workers, he started a prayer and bible study group. This soon grew and attracted men from across London.


YMCA begins to address other concerns of young men working in the cities. Public lectures and education classes are developed. Reading rooms and refreshment areas help young men to adjust to urban life.


YMCA spreads outside London and branches are set up in Manchester and Leeds.


Following links made at The Great Exhibition in London, YMCA spreads across the globe and YMCAs are established in the USA and Canada. Seven years after it was established, a YMCA is formed in Boston, USA.


The first mention of a YMCA in Bournemouth is in 1879. It is housed in rented rooms above the J E Beale shop in Old Christchurch Road.


Bournemouth YMCA moves to rented accommodation in St Peter’s Road and occupies two connected buildings – Shaftesbury Hall and Cairns Memorial House (where Burlington Arcade now stands). The buildings house both a hostel and one of the first gymnasiums in the country. The total YMCA operating cost is just £1,500pa!
Early 1900s


In 1903, the beginnings of Winton YMCA emerge with the introduction of a YMCA Mission Room at the Gospel Mission Hall on Wycliffe Road. From 1914, the Winton YMCA plays a big part in supporting soldiers during the First World War and a purpose-built hut is set up as a recreation centre for troops destined for the trenches. They eventually move to the current Jameson Road site in 1920 and a new building is erected in 1928. It becomes a popular community hub.

In central Bournemouth, the YMCA buys the freehold of Cairns Memorial House with the aid of a mortgage of £5,500.


Cairns Memorial House is sold and a new development is erected at YMCA Bournemouth’s current location between Westover and Hinton Road, with the first five floors opened by HRH Princess Mary on 28th June 1930. The building costs the princely sum of £37,500.


With the outbreak of war, YMCA Winton becomes the temporary home for hundreds of soldiers and the headquarters of the local Fire Service. Run by the ‘trojans’ of the YMCA Ladies Auxillary, it later serves as a rest centre for civilians affected by local bombing, a transit camp and as a recreation hub for the armed forces. Throughout this time, its motto remains “No request is ever refused”.
Post-war period


In Bournemouth, a sixth floor is built on top of the Westover Road hostel and the Hinton Road Youth Club is added to the building.


The flats complex in the Hinton Road side of the building is completed and Princess Anne presides at the opening ceremony.


The youth club in Hinton Road is converted into Teddy’s Place Day Care Nursery and five years later three basement rooms in Westover Road are refurbished to provide the Lifewise Fitness Suite, a coffee bar and Hope FM’s radio studio (the latter is now based at the Hinton end of the site). In 1991, a total refurbishment of the premises takes place at a cost of £1.8M: a frightening sum when compared to the original building cost.


The charity’s work continues to expand with the addition of Fusion Youth Centre, the Trafford House move-on accommodation block and the taking over of the trusteeship of Pokesdown Youth Club.


Bournemouth YMCA is donated Sandyholme, a retreat and activity centre in Studland in the Isle of Purbeck, and expands its family work by taking over the management of Southbourne Children’s Centre on behalf of the local authority.


Bournemouth YMCA takes over the management of Winton YMCA and offers room hire for a range of activities including conferences, table tennis and dance classes.


Responding to difficulties faced by The Junction Sports and Leisure Centre in Broadstone, Bournemouth YMCA is invited to take over its management, which it does so extremely successfully.


Bournemouth YMCA opens Teddy’s Pre-School in Pokesdown.


Drawing from its relationship with YMCA England & Wales, Bournemouth YMCA undergoes a complete rebrand, which includes changing its name to ‘YMCA Bournemouth’. At the same time, a partnership develops between the charity and Townsend Youth Centre and Bournemouth’s supported accommodation options expand, including the introduction of direct referrals.


For structural reasons, Teddy’s Place Day Care Nursery is closed down. Meanwhile, new move-on accommodation is developed in Poole.


YMCA Bournemouth is invited to take over the management of both Townsend and Queen’s Park Children’s Centres.