- 1871-1891 (Creation)
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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.
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This fonds has been arranged into the following sections:
YCI/1 Governing Body records
YCI/2 Administrative records
YCI/3 Financial records
YCI/4 Education records
YCI/7 Photographs and painting
YCI/8 Members memorabilia
This fonds is currently being catalogued. Please contact the Archivist for more information.
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