IN the third instalment of his series on the History of YMCA, Foyer Manager Andrew Hornsby looks back at the formation of YMCA in the Humber Region and its early days in Grimsby.
Mr Fred Bacon: Our founding Father
Mr Fred Bacon was the founder and president of the ‘Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District YMCA’.
Born in Grainsby near North Thorseby, Mr Bacon moved to Grimsby and went to work on the Fish Docks.
Shortly afterwards he started up as a fish merchant and with the help of his brother Mr Herbert Bacon, he built up a very successful business, eventually retiring in 1956.
But his greatest interest was the YMCA and it was his initiative as a young man new to Grimsby that led to the foundation of a YMCA club in the town in 1906.
Although his first invitation to young men in Grimsby to join the club resulted in no replies, he refused to be discouraged and after a meeting with the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Grimsby YMCA was formed.
The YMCA provided two rooms for club activities on Heneage Road and as demand increased in later years, some adjoining property was acquired with further alterations over the years including significant accommodation.
First World War
The Grimsby Y.M.C.A. in the very earliest days of the First World War set to work to entertain the soldiers billeted in this district.
The YMCA invited men to the Y.M.C.A. rooms, built Y.M.C.A. Huts at Riby and other camps, and provided hundreds of concert parties and looked after the men in various ways.
On February 20th, 1917, they took over a Temperance Hotel – the Imperial, on Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes and converted it into a Hostel for soldiers and sailors.
Since the day of opening the Hostel was never closed day or night, until the end of the Great War.
So popular did the Hostel become that within a few months the adjoining premises had to be taken, and just before the armistice the rooms over Hepworth’s’, at the corner of Freeman St. and Strand St., were also added, which brought the total of beds up to 158.
Second World War
In 1938 the Grimsby YMCA purchased a sports field at Springfield.
During the Second World War the premises at Heneage Road were taken over by the Admiralty and used as a Naval Hospital.
The Grimsby YMCA established a service hostel in Cleethorpes Road, and when the war was over the YMCA returned to 39 Heneage Road.