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Our History


From its inception over 150 years ago the YMCA has grown into a global movement which makes a real difference to millions of lives every day. Traditionally YMCA services have delivered distinct, mainly stand alone services tailored to meet the needs of specific communities.YMCA  Bolton is one of 114 YMCA organisations operating in nearly every local authority, which, in conjunction with; YMCA George Williams College, Y Care International, YMCA Training and Central YMCA Qualifications and YMCA England, form the YMCA Federation in England.


George Williams

1844 George Williams instrumental in founding the YMCA.

1883 Committee formed to oversee the founding of a YMCA in Bolton.

1884 YMCA Bolton founded.

1884/1914 A wide programme of Social, Educational, Sporting and Religious activities developed in various venues in the town centre, including Gt Moor St & St Georges Rd.

1914/1918 A programme of service to the Armed Forces implemented.

1919 After a lightning campaign the citizens of Bolton raise the money to purchase the Deansgate building as a memorial to those who made the supreme sacrifice during the Great War and as a thank you to the Association for its devoted service to our soldiers during that conflict.

1923 Bolton Boys Federation Football League is founded under the auspices of the YMCA and bases its Headquarters in our premises.

1923 Princess Helena Victoria visits the Association.

1925 An extension to the rear of the building is built creating more space for the rapidly expanding work of the Association.

1937 The Duke of Gloucester visits the Association to support the work with young people.

1940/1946 Over 41000 service men use the temporary hostel accommodation provided within the building.

1946 A 32 bed residential unit is opened at Lostock Deane on a site given to the YMCA & Bolton Boy Scouts.

1950’s Regular Holidays organised by the YMCA for its members, which included visits for young members to the Continent.

1975 A refurbished Coffee Bar/ Youth Centre opens in the basement.

1978 Ladies admitted into membership for the first time.

1983 YMCA  Bolton commences vocational training with the long term unemployed. Also exchange development links begin with Detmold YMCA in Germany.

1984 Y-Fit Health Studio opens as part of the Associations Centenary celebrations.

1987/88 Exchange visits with Montclair YMCA, New Jersey, USA.

1991 Launch of ‘Bolton Bonanza’ Bolton’s own game produced by the Association.

1992 Y-Fit wins National Competition for innovative activity in the ‘Fit for Life’ campaign.

1993 Day Camps programme of summer activities for children commences.

1994 The Association shares in the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the YMCA with a week long display in the Market Place.

1995 Regular second hand book sales commence as a fund raiser for the Association.

2003 Phil Glanvill retires after 24 years as General Secretary.

2004 Arrival of Julian Finch as current Chief Executive Officer.

2005 YMCA basement reopens as the ‘Venue’ youth café and a thriving youth and children’s programme commences.

2007  YMCA Bolton’s own Youth Council forms and marks the move towards a more active role for young people in the future development of the organisation.

2009  YMCA Bolton celebrates its 125th anniversary.

2012 YMCA World Challenge: The YMCA movement sets a Guinness World for most people shooting basket ball hoops in one day

2015 Y Care International, the overseas development agency of YMCA in the UK and Ireland is established. Today it supports projects for vulnerable young people in over 20 countries worldwide.

YMCAs in Wales affiliate to the National Council

Today YMCA has over 58 million members in 119 countries worldwide. Since it was established, 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, YMCA is helping young people to build a future.


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