AS YOU WILL IMAGINE, an 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some important highlights and milestones of our Association's history in addition to providing access to some of our historical documents online at the foot of this page.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 the documents.

1858 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 this town."


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


1859 - 1872 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.


1874 - 1895 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 work 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 existence.


Immediate 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.

1895 - 1905 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 Aberdeen.

1908 JUBILEE YEAR  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.





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.





CLICK on any of the documents below to read about our history in more detail:

 Jubilee Retrospect



A Guiding Light 1908-1958





Aberdeen YMCA, 52 Skene Terrace, Aberdeen, AB10 1RP, Scotland (UK)
tel:   +44 (0)1224 643291
fax:  +44 (0)1224 643292
e-mail: [email protected]

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tel:   +44 (0)1224 379980
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Scottish Charity Number: SC013487
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