AS YOU WILL IMAGINE,
organisation which is almost 150 years old has more than its
fair bit of history!
We have cited here on this page
some important highlights and milestones of our
Association's history in addition to providing access to
some of our historical documents online at the foot of this
page. You will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to open
On the Tuesday evening of 6th
July, 1858, a small company
of young men met in the Session
House of Bon-Accord Free Church
(then in Union Terrace, “to endeavour to form a Young
Men’s Christian Association in
Two months later, on 14th
September 1858, a satisfactory arrangement was made for
using the "Circular Room" of the Music Hall Buildings
on Union Street”
In the early years of
its existence the Association had the credit of bringing to
Aberdeen many of the most noted preachers and lecturers of
the day. The most outstanding name of all was that of
Rev Charles Spurgeon who visited Aberdeen in 1861 and
preached in the Music Hall to immense audiences gathered not
only from the city alone, but from nearly every district in
the north. On the following morning he breakfasted
with the members of the YMCA.
1873 - 1874
In 1873 the Association
moved from the Music Hall Buildings to premises rented at
183a Union Street where rooms solely for YMCA use could
be used. In 1874, Messrs. Moody and Sankey paid their first
visit to Aberdeen, and the city was stirred by a mighty
revival. Mr Moody directed attention to the importance
of the YMCA and pleaded for its receiving a far greater
measure of public support. With this a movement was
started for the purchase of a suitable building in a
prominent position, with ample accommodation for the
headquarters of the Association. It wasn't long before
the YMCA purchased 198 Union Street
(pictured right) which it occupied and maintained a building
on that site until the 1980s.
In 1874, the advocate Gray C
Fraser (pictured left) was called to the position of
Chairman, following in the footsteps of several others.
For the next quarter of a century he was more prominently
identified with the YMCA and its
than any other man in Aberdeen.
Mr Fraser was the YMCA's
chairman continuously from 1874 to 1889, and again from 1894
to 1898. His election as Chairman was complemented by
the appointment, in 1875, of Charles Shirreffs (pictured
right) as Aberdeen YMCA's first paid secretary. He
held the office for 20 years and retired in 1895. The
YMCA with a permanent official to direct its operations, may
be said to have then entered into a new era in its
significance of their partnership can be seen in the
'success' of the
YMCA's now well established
biblical tract distribution. In 1876 it had grown in
excess of 500 distributors with a circulation of 228,000.
Distribution and house-to-house visitations included areas
of Torry, Banchory-Devenick, Cove, and Cults.
Features of the
Association's spiritual work by this time included a Sunday
Morning Bible Class and Evening Evangelistic Service,
Foreign Missionary Union, Bible Reading Union, Bible Class
for Juniors, and Saturday Night Fellowship Meeting.
Whilst on the physical, and social side there was the
Literary and Debating Society, Gymnastic, Cricket, and
Cycling Clubs, Boys' Brigade, etc. Outreach work had
also grown to include The Causewayend Mission
(pictured left) and a branch in the Bucksburn area of
The Jubilee Celebrations of the Aberdeen YMCA were held in
September 1908 and linked with the first British Conference
of YMCAs held here in Aberdeen. John Montgomery,
Aberdeen's General Secretary at the time (appointed in 1900)
was the Conference Secretary. The annual meeting of
the Conference was delayed to ensure that it coincided with
the occasion of the YMCA's jubilee. Events held to
celebrate the Jubilee Year included a Civic Reception at the
Art Gallery (pictured left), a Garden Party at Rubislaw Den
House, a Re-union of past and present members, a Luncheon by
an anonymous member of Aberdeen YMCA, a Conference Luncheon
in Albert Hall and an excursion to Fyvie Castle. John
Montgomery continued as General Secretary until 1912.
1912 - 1918
Robert Duncan, a member of Aberdeen YMCA himself, succeeded
John Montgomery as General Secretary of the Association.
Mr Duncan was a forward thinking man who successfully led
the YMCA throughout World War 1. With the outbreak of
war in 1914, Aberdeen YMCA interrupted its usual programme
to meet the needs of the large number of Armed Service men
stationed in the city.
WORLD WAR 1
So successful was Mr Duncan's leadership that by the end of
World War 1, Mr Duncan received an invite from YMCA Scotland
to become their Field Secretary. He was succeeded by
the Secretary of the Bucksburn branch Mr John MacDonald who
would go on to be General Secretary until 1937.
1918 - 1923
The war time programme was continued for a considerable time
after the declaration of peace. During the period of
demobilisation and the visitation to the City of many men
from overseas, the adaptation of the programme became
necessary to meet changing needs. Hospitality was the
chief problem and it soon became obvious that Hostel
accommodation had to be provided. With such an urgency
for a YMCA Hostel, the YMCA faced the necessity of
inaugurating a Forward Movement including the provision of a
Hostel for young men, a Club for boys, a gymnasium, the
building of a hall and rooms for our Mission at Causewayend,
and reconstruction and improvements at the Institute.
Further amenities were in view but the public response to
our financial appeal was insufficient to cover the entire
scheme and certain modifcations had to be adopted.
After inspection of premises
4 Golden Square was purchased on 1 August 1918
and opened 20 days later.