OUR Rich History Heritage project team have been researching the fascinating tapestry of YMCA in Grimsby and the surrounding area. One name that has been synonymous with the charity throughout their 100-plus years of existence is that of the Bellamy family. Charles Bellamy was an early member of YMCA and tragically lost his life as one of the Grimsby Chums in World War I. Roland Bellamy was a long-serving trustee, chairman and president of the Association. Roland’s son Richard Bellamy recently came to Peaks Lane and provided a copy of an interview with his father, which was produced in 1977.
Interviewer: What was your involvement with YMCA in the local area?
RB: Talking about the YMCA, my family were all interested in it. I had a brother Charles who was killed in 1916 who was on the Council of the YMCA in 1909 and 1910 before the war broke out, and very soon after the Grimsby YMCA was formed in 1906.
I had always been interested as a young man and had attended various of their functions and had I suppose played Billiards there at times, but it wasn’t until 1947 that the-then Chairman of the YMCA, who was a man called George Tickler, the son of our MP T.G. Tickler, came to me one day and said he was a very busy man and he wanted someone to assist him as Deputy Chairman, would I be willing to do it?
I thought about it and I thought, the family have always been interested and probably I should do something about this. He took me to the first meeting and introduced me and after that I never saw him anymore, not at the YMCA. I’d been thrown in at the deep end, and within a few months I was elected Chairman. We had at that time a very able President, Mr Bacon who was the instigator of the first YMCA in Grimsby.
Over the years I would say that this has been my main interest in life apart from my family and business. It’s been a great, what shall I say interest as good a thing that I could have done. The YMCA at that time in Grimsby was in Heneage Road and on many occasions I was asked by mothers who came to me and said “My son is leaving Grimsby for the first time on a course or in business or something and I’m a little bit worried about him, do you think you get him into the YMCA where he is going. I used to get them into hostels in various parts of the country and get someone to look after them.
Then I thought well it’s alright doing this, but what are we doing in Grimsby to reciprocate this and so I said to my committee, “we must do something”. So we brought the semi-detached house next to the YMCA and converted it into our first hostel, at that time I think there were 3 or 4 beds in a room which was quite acceptable then, and we put washbasins in and lavatories and such things and it was soon full. Well then we brought the adjoining house next to it, one of a pair, and converted that and eventually we started adding rooms in other parts of the building until we had 30 or 40 beds I suppose.