December 3, 2023

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The Sports Fanatics

When the YMCA in Oxford ran distinct sports activities groups

The Younger Men’s Christian Affiliation, to give its whole name, offered assist for several family members and people and was a formidable force locally in football, cricket, boxing, desk tennis, snooker and billiards.

We had been reminded of the organisation when reader Brian Leahy noticed on a web page information of the vocation I (John Chipperfield) have appreciated as a journalist in Oxford.

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My backlink with the Oxford Mail began as a schoolboy in the early 1960s when the athletics staff requested me to cover a soccer match, an Oxfordshire Senior Cup tie among Oxford YMCA and Outdated Salesians at Jackdaw Lane, off Iffley Street.

Commenting on what he experienced read, Mr Leahy recalled that the YMCA had a large presence in the metropolis.

He wrote: “There was a massive YMCA building in George Street, a different in Walton Road and a youth hostel in Iffley Road. They are now all gone. Whichever took place?”.

The YMCA was established in London in 1844, with the aim of catering for the non secular and actual physical requirements of young individuals.

The Oxford branch was formed in 1847 by a compact group of males who satisfied at Wheeler’s Lawn in Norfolk Avenue, St Ebbe’s.

It stayed there for 21 years, then led a nomadic daily life, conference at premises in Cornmarket Avenue, King Edward Avenue, St Aldate’s, Queen Street, New Inn Corridor Road and St Michael’s Street. At 1 time, it also achieved in the Mayor’s Parlour at Oxford Town Hall.

All that changed in 1891 when it opened St George’s Hall in George Street. Membership and pursuits greater and the YMCA savored a massively thriving interval.

Having said that, catastrophe struck in 1917 when the setting up was destroyed by hearth. Customers moved to non permanent premises in Cornmarket Avenue and it was not until eventually 1923 they have been equipped to return to their rebuilt George Street headquarters.

A different profitable period of time adopted, but by the 1950s, further monetary issues arose.

Oxford Mail:

The George Avenue creating was marketed to the Elliston & Cavell section keep (afterwards Debenhams) for £57,500.

The YMCA moved to Walton Road and also opened a hostel in Iffley Street, but fiscal difficulties ongoing, forcing it sooner or later to provide each structures.

All that was remaining in the Oxford YMCA coffers was transferred to the Henley branch, now the only group left in Oxfordshire.

The only reminder in the metropolis is on the carving over No 10 George Avenue, with the initials YMCA and the date 1891.

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Soon after the Debenhams chain went into administration the Oxford department on the corner of George Street and Magdalen Avenue closed early in 2021 – it did not reopen following the third lockdown.

The creating continues to be empty and so significantly the building’s proprietor, DTZ Traders, which functions on behalf of Strathclyde Pension Fund, has not introduced any ideas even though it is searching for substitute makes use of.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can indicator up to his newsletters for no cost in this article. 

He joined the group more than 20 yrs ago and he covers neighborhood information across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism e-newsletter is unveiled every Saturday morning. 

You can also go through his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.