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Youths' Christian Institute and successors

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1753 YCI
Held at: University of Westminster
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Full title: Youths' Christian Institute and successors
Date(s): 1871-1894
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: c25 boxes
Name of creator(s): Youths' Christian Institute | London
Young Men's Christian Institute | London
Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute | London
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Youth's Christian Institute (later known as the Young Men's Christian Institute) grew out of York Place Ragged School, which had been founded in 1864 by the philanthropist and educationist Quintin Hogg (1845-1903). Hogg founded the Institute in 1873 (some sources wrongly given the date as 1871) to provide for the needs of older, working boys who were evidently reluctant to break their connection with the School. It was in this period that Hogg developed his vision for providing for the athletic, intellectual, social and religious needs of young men which later characterised the polytechnic movement. The initial premises were between Endell Street and Castle Street, which it shared with the Ragged School, but it outgrew these, having increased its membership to some 300, and in 1878 removed to larger premises in nearby Long Acre. Membership fees paid for free use of a library, social rooms, gymnasium and entertainments for members; a small additional fee was required from students for technical classes. Non-members paid larger fees. Robert Mitchell (1855-1933), the Institute's honorary secretary, agreed to become the full-time Secretary. A more ambitious programme of classes was instituted: Science and Art classes began in 1878. A savings bank was also inaugurated. Soon there were 500 members and a year-long waiting list. A monthly magazine, Home Tidings (from 1888 The Polytechnic Magazine), was started in 1879. Hogg's search for larger premises identified a suitable site in St Martin's Lane, but in 1882 he instead purchased the lease and equipped and enlarged no 309 Regent Street, which provided much larger premises than Long Acre. The building had until 1881 housed the Royal Polytechnic Institution, which failed in that year. It became known as the Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute. The premises at Long Acre were closed. Hogg was its President, and Robert Mitchell its Secretary and, from 1891, the Director of Education. From 1882 an expanded programme of classes began, including science and art classes held in conjunction with the Science and Art Department (of the Board of Trade), and a scheme of technical and trade education, related to the City and Guilds of London Institute of Technical Instruction and to the London Trades Council. The building housed classrooms, a swimming bath, gymnasium, and a refreshment room. Activities included debating and gymnastics. By 1888 membership was 4,200, in addition to 7,300 students, and over 200 classes were held weekly; concerts, lectures, and an annual industrial exhibition were also held. Membership was open to those aged between 16 and 25. A Young Women's Branch, housed in separate premises in Langham Place, was also begun. In the early 1880s the Institute attracted much favourable attention from the technical education lobby. Following the City of London Parochial Charities Act in 1883, it became clear that funds would be available to endow the Polytechnic and to found and support institutions on the same model across London. A public appeal was launched in 1888 to raise the required matching funding. The Scheme was finalised under the auspices of the Charity Commissioners in 1891, when the Institute was reconstituted as Regent Street Polytechnic, managed by a newly created governing body.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records, 1871-1894, of the Youths' Christian Institute (YCI), Young Men's Christian Institute (YMCI) and Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute (PYMCI), comprising PYCMI minute book, 1887-1891; records relating to membership, comprising candidate books [1880]-1887, register of honorary members, 1885-1894, and subscription ledgers, 1882-1891; lease of nos 48-9 Long Acre, 1871, with assignments, 1877, 1882; leases of premises in Langham Place, 1888, 1890; copies of licences for alterations to nos 309 and 311 Regent Street, 1887, 1889; agreement for alterations between nos 309 and 311 Regent Street, 1889; draft assignment of leasehold premises in Regent Street, 1889; draft deed for an Endowment Fund, 1889, and Deed of Trust, 1890; agreement to take over the West London School of Art, 1889; memorandum of agreement with Cassell and Co Ltd concerning publication of books for use by Polytechnic students, 1889; apprenticeship indentures for boys from the Youths' Institute and Boys' Home, Long Acre, 1877-1880; rules of the YCI and Reading Rooms, Long Acre, with a report of the Annual General Meeting, list of members, and rules of the savings bank, 1875; Quintin Hogg's roll book (probably for Bible Class), 1876-1878, including titles of talks given, 1877-1878; printed rules of the YCI (Strand branch) and Reading Rooms, 1880, including report of the third Annual General Meeting, 1879, the 'Ian' Athletic Club rules and an account of its second Annual General Meeting, rules of the Provident Savings bank and of the Relief Fund, and list of members; programme for swimming bath opening [1884]; PYMCI diary, 1886-1887; circular letter from Robert Mitchell concerning the Polytechnic Industrial Exhibition, 1887; PYMCI membership tickets, 1889; article by Henry Solly, 'The London Polytechnic Redivivus' [1884]; catalogue of the ninth annual industrial exhibition, 1886; PYMCI rules, 1891; reprint of article on appeal in The Times, 1888; receipts, accounts, balance sheets and financial report, 1883-1885, 1889; photocopies of letters to the Society of Arts from Quintin Hogg, 1873, and James Cousins, 1878; prospectus, 1888-1889; Charles F Mitchell's Polytechnic course: forty lessons in carpentry workshop practice, revised by G C Pope (1888); Home Tidings, 1879-1888, and its successor The Polytechnic Magazine, 1888-1891, the contents varying over time, but containing much information on Polytechnic activities, and including timetables, lists of members and club reports; view of frontage of nos 48-9 Long Acre, c1878.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signing the Regulations for Access form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be supplied, for research use only, unless copyright restrictions apply or the item is too fragile to be copied. Requests to publish original material should be addressed to the University Archivist.

Finding aids:

Typescript handlist for some items. More recently accessioned material is uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Created by the institution.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Post-1891 records are part of the Regent Street Polytechnic fonds (Ref: UWA RSP). The records of various Institute clubs, some of which were founded before 1891, are described separately. The University of Westminster Archives also holds records of Hogg's other foundation, the York Place Ragged School (Ref: UWA YPS), and of the predecessor in Regent Street, the Royal Polytechnic Institution (Ref: UWA RPI).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Ethel M Hogg, Quintin Hogg: a Biography (Archibald Constable & Co Ltd, London, 1904), chapters IV-VI; The Polytechnic Magazine, 20 May 1896, pp 247-50; The Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute Syllabus and Prospectus 1888-1889, pp 11-20, reprinting an article from The Times, 23 Apr 1888.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Dec 2001

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