What went on
The YMCA has always offered many classes and facilitated many clubs and groups. Crafts, arts, sports and social and community activities have been a consistent element of the YMCA since the beginning. Education of children and adults has been offered during the years, offering guitar lessons, Duke of Edinburgh Awards (mainly first aid courses), St. John Ambulance, English and Welsh classes, to mention a few. Later came computer and IT-classes. Homework help was offered more or less throughout the history of the Pontypridd YMCA.
Around the time of 2003 the YMCA activities began to cease and the rooms were hired out to other groups, organisations and societies. The YMCA continued to serve the community but had become the logistical facilitation of activities as opposed to creating new activities.
The variety of clubs and groups was huge. In the 1950s and 1960s adults indoor bowls was popular and in 1964, there was a Scalextric Club for boys. In the early 1960s a discussion group, cycle group, fishing club and evangelical music group were highly attended. A nine year old boy became a member as his dad requested him to join the chess club in 1964, so there are signs of continuity. There are also records of tutors, employees and volunteers whose children joined various clubs.
In 1907, the Committee discuss the Rifle Range that are within the plans for the New Building. They discussed the rules suggested by the Rifle Association and subject to slight alterations, decided to adopt them. They also discussed the cost, deciding that the fee would be 1 shilling for members and that ‘outsiders’ must first join the YMCA.
Lectures begin in November of 1904, on Wednesdays if possible
A Friday Night Rally a regular activity
Prayer meetings on Monday evenings
Athletics Club Committee and a Billiards Committee
Chess Club (a cup presented by Mr Edwin Jones was used for competitions among the chess club)
Hand Bell Ringers
Bible Study Class
Junior Debating Class
Indoor Rifle Club
Pontypridd Musical Society
It was decided to open the Roof for Concerts and Special Events only.
Glamorgan Male Voice Party
Hard of Hearing Club
Evangelical Music Group
‘Venturer’ scheme for all YMCA. Encouraging boys to participate in outdoor activities, campcraft, bible studies and first aid
Many groups use the building: Aikido, Kickboxing, Irish Dancing, New Modern Dance, Aerobics, Craft Classes, Computer Classes, Counselling Courses together with Child Helpline. Charities from Crossroads Carers Organisation to Dan-y-Bryn Homes and also Music exams and New Deal and Dash Training.
The Machine Knitting Club and the Crochet Club merged in 1987 and became the Craft Club, who still meet every Tuesday. Key people from this club would arrange buffets for events in and out of the YMCA, making money for the benefit of the YMCA. The same club would run Saturday morning jumble sales to benefit the YMCA.
Women in the YMCA
Although a young men’s association, women have been very important for the YMCA since the very beginning. In the beginning of the 1930s a Women’s Auxilliary was formed and helped collect funds to sustain the building and its activities. In 1936 H. H. Princess Helena Victoria, the president of the National Women’s Auxiliary, came to visit the Pontypridd YMCA showing her support. Women were less so part of the sporting activities and more so in the arts. Groups like the Shelley Singers and the Y.M.C.A. Ladies are mentioned several times. The Shelley Ladies are the most featured group and they began their shows in 1935 and had their 50th anniversary in 1985. In 1958 they competed in the Eisteddfod.
The Boys’ Club
The Boys’ Club was not part of the Pontypridd YMCA but were granted permission to build a new floor on the top of the building. When the Boys’ Club stopped using the top floor it became part of the YMCA’s rooms. The top floor went out of use when the roof started leaking and repairing it would have been too costly. More and more youth clubs began to appear after the 1940s and the YMCA continued to be a gathering place, a community space and was a haven for many people for decades. In the diaries there are references to Club happening weekly as far as the 1984. The Boys club was opened by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester K.G.K.T.
Politics, Fame and Royal visits
During the 1926 miners strike, the miners used the YMCA. They approached the YMCA to ask for a room in which to repair shoes for the strikers and their families. Because they could not afford to buy new ones, they used parts of the really worn ones to repair the less worn.
An early fair trade-like organisation was promoted in the YMCA under the motto of Rich Man, Poor Man, Middle Man, Thief, aiming to ensure the legitimate trade of third world crafts in industry countries. A photo shows two uniformed men next to the poster in the YMCA, promoting this message. Other fairs were held such as the International Youth Fair in 1985 and lessons in public speaking was offered for a long time. The YMCA promoted the empowerment of young people and encouraged them to take part in their community.
Princess Mary visited the YMCA in 1912 and the archives carry a photograph. This appears to be the first royal visit to the YMCA. On Friday the 18th of December 1931 Prince George visited the Pontypridd YMCA during their trip through South Wales. The minutes from 1918-1931 tell us that “it was reported that Prince George would be paying a visit to the Juvenile Institution Centre on Friday Dec. 18th and the Secretary was authorised to engage any extra hands which might be required for cleaning purposes”. Princess Helena Victoria visited in 1936. In 1962 the YMCA yet again had the pleasure of a royal visit, this time from HRH The Princess Royal visited the YMCA’s of South Wales on May 15th. In 1908 a committee members proposed that a Russian Princess could give a lecture for the association. However, which princess, why or of what she would speak was not noted in the minute book from that year…