Reading, Padworth, Caversham

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A short history of YMCA Reading

Formed in December 1846, the first YMCA Reading meeting was held on the 18th January 1847 under the Presidency of Mr Martin Hope Sutton, making it one of the first in the country.  The Association purchased a lease on a property in St Marys Butts but it was felt necessary to provide a reading and assembly room that could be used at any hour so a room was rented in Kings Road by the Abbey buildings in 1856.

They moved once again to a room in Gun Street before the Association purchased premises in Valpy Street in 1893.  In 1987 the YMCA moved again to a purpose built building in Friar Street.  In 1920 Aurthur Sutton gave ‘Garrard House’ in Merchants Place to the YMCA.  The Friar Street building was knocked down some years ago and was on the site now occupied by ‘Nandos Restaurant’.

During the 2nd World War YMCA Reading also opened offices in Central Reading to help armed forces personnel as they transited through the area.

YMCA Reading moved in 1955 to Southcote Road where it provided accommodation for 35 young people.

YMCA moved to its current location at ‘Marlborough House’ in Parkside Road in 1965.  In the early 1970’s, when combined with Milward Hall on Tilehurst Road, over 120 young people lived here.  All its work was transferred into Marlborough House in the 1980’s.  Over the years YMCA Reading has also used premises in ‘Fireside Club’ and a sports ground opposite their current location.

In 1971, volunteers of YMCA Reading built Padworth Log Cabin.  The aim of the Cabin was to offer a base for outward bound-type activities and summer camping trips.  In 2012, the Cabin was burnt to the ground after an arson attack.  YMCA Reading decided to re-build the Cabin to according to modern building regulations and the new state-of-the-art building opened in June 2013.  The new building can accommodate 16 children/young people in two dormitories and several staff with full messing facilities.

In 2006, the Housing Corporation (today’s Homes and Communities Agency) awarded the Association a grant of £2.4 million to re-develop the existing site and provide 40 units of new modern accommodation.  This new accommodation enables the delivery of high quality support, education and training and community activities to young people aged 16-25 who are resident at the YMCA with the primary aim of helping those young people to work towards independent living.

In 2012, the charitable Association completed its transfer of status to a Registered Company Limited By Guarantee.


YMCA Reading – 34 Parkside Road
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