TST YMCA opened

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 20:32

Appeared on page 5 of the HK Daily Press, 1925-11-27 :





The handsome new building for the European Y.M.C.A. in Salisbury Road, Kowloon, close to the Ferry Wharf, was opened yesterday evening by H.E. the Governor (Mr. Cecil Clementi, C.M.G.). A large gathering of Hongkong  residents was present at the opening ceremony.

The crowd was assembled at the door of the building when His Excellency arrived. Those present included: Sir Henry and Lady Pollock, the Colonial Secretary, (Mr. A. G. M. Fletcher, C.M.G., C.B.E.), the General. Officer Commanding (Col.Russell Brown), Commodore Stirling. R.N., the Hon. Mr. Holyoak. and Mrs. Holyoak, the Hon. Mr. H. T. Creasy and Mrs. Creasy, the Hon. Mr. C. G. Alabaster. K.C., the Bishop of Victoria (the Right Rev. C. P. Duppuy), and many others.


Sir Henry PoLlock, the President of of the Y.M.C.A., addressing the gathering said he desired in the first instance, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Association, to express their satisfaction at the presence of H.E. The Governor to open the building. To many of them the satisfaction was increased by the fact that His Excellency had returned to the Colony as an old friend.

Since he left the Colony in 1912 the local Association had undergone serious financial difficulties which had compelled them to be homeless for over ten years.

Now, owing to the exertions of a former Governor, the late Sir Henry May, a fund of $140,000 had been collected, to which the late Sir Ellis Kadoorie and the late Mr. M. J. D. Stephens contributed $35,000 each. They had also to thank in this connection Mr. J. L. Mc-Pherson who had secured for them a contribution of $75,000 (gold) from the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A. and who had done yeoman service in acting as the unpaid secretary for over ten years past. He had also been kind enough to consent to continue as general secretary, and to continue to give the Board of Directors the benefit of his assistance and advice.

Continuing, Sir HENRY said ..the building was intended partly for residential and partly for social purposes, and it would be the aim of the Directors to conduct it as inexpensively as was consistent with good management and with the effective maintenance of the premises.

The building reflected great credit on the architects, Messrs. Leigh and Orange, and on the contractor, Lam Woo, who had been successful in completing the building within two months of the contract date, despite adverse circumstances. One division of the building was for members who would pay a monthly or annual subscription, and the other for non-members who would have the use of certain part of the building without subscription.


Sir Henry, after describing the interior arrangements, and indicating the various rooms set apart for the use of members and non-members, said the building had no facilities for physical training, but thanks to the generosity of the Hongkong Government they had ample space at the rear for the development of the building. The Directors hoped that some public-spirited, gentleman in the Colony would come forward to present the Association with a gymnasium, bowling alley or swimming bath. In the meantime it was proposed to make full use of the ground at the rear of the building for such games as could be played on the limited area.

The Directors had been fortunate enough to secure as secretary Mr. J. H. Hunt, O.B.E., who, with Mrs. Hunt had had a wide experience of Y.M.C.A. work. It was perhaps scarcely necessary for him to explain to a gathering of that kind the general aims of. the Y.M.C.A. Broadly speaking it could be said that the Y.M.C.A. stood not only for mensana in corpore sano, but also for that spiritual outlook which induced men to perform unselfish deeds for the benefit of others, and to carry the practice of the teaching of the Gospels into their everyday life.


He would like to mention that they had received from the Chinese Y.M.C.A. fraternal greetings and also a mirror which had been placed inside the building. He looked upon that greeting as being very important from two points of view,—not only from the point of view of being a welcome extended by a fellow Christian Association, but also as being one of dozens of proofs which they had received during the last few months of the spiritual co-operation which existed between the British and Chinese of this Colony. It was a spirit which had been was, and would be, the keystone of the prosperity and progress of this Colony.

Sir Henry also announced that they had received several telegrams from Shanghai and Amoy congratulating them on the opening of the new premises. Turning of H.E. the Governor HENRY said: “I will now ask you, Sir. to open this building with a silver key which will be presented to you by Mr. Mackiehan, of Messrs. Leigh and Orange, who desire your acceptance of the key as a memento to the present occasion.

His Excellency accepted the key, and formally opened the new building. 


The visitors were then accommodated in the lounge, and the local history of the Association was outlined by the Vice President (Hon. Mr. P. H. Holyoak) said:-

Nearly 25 years ago the Rev. W. J. Southam came here as the enthusiastic representative of the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A., to establish Y.M.C.A. work here. Mr. Southam studied local conditions and worked quietly on for some time until the time seemed ripe for a definite proposal. Some of us here to-day can remember the first meeting called to consider the matter, when it was decided to go ahead with the scheme. A few months later, on the 1st May, 1904, the official opening of the Y.M.C.A. took place, the premises being the top floor of the ‘Alexandra Buildings.’ Early in 1905 Mr. Southam was obliged to return to Canada, when Mr. J. L. McPherson was invited to fill his place and has remained here ever since. By his keenness and abounding faith in the establishment a strong ‘Y.M.C.A.’ work here he has been very largely responsible for the success of our present scheme.

For a period of ten years the Y.M.C.A. occupied its original premises, when it did useful work, appreciated both by members and the community at large. It was, however, hampered by inadequate accommodation, on the one hand, and the fact that a considerable portion of its revenue had to go for rent, on the other.    

In June, 1914, an outbreak of Plague in its premises necessitated a change of quarters, and suitable rooms elsewhere being unobtainable, temporary quarters were taken in what is now the Hongkong Bank extension, in Des Voeux Road. These premises proving quite inadequate, it was decided to suspend work temporary, until a more suitable place might be obtained. It was decided to endeavour to secure a building for the Association and a strong committee, led by the late Sir Henry May, who took the keenest personal interest in the matter, made a canvass for funds in June, 1916, when the sum of $140,000 was obtained.

These funds were sent home and invested in the War Bonds until the War should end.

Subsequently various sites were generously offered by the Government and considered for the building, and ultimately the Directors decided upon the present admirable plot of ground, recommended at first  by Sir Claud Severn and secured for us later by Sir Edward Stubbs, with the consent of the  Secretary of State for the Colonies.

At first the Directors could only see their way to erect a much smaller building than that in which we stand to-day, but three years ago they were fortunate in securing a grant of $75,000 (gold) from the International Committee of the Y.M:C.A. subject to the quite reasonable condition that certain accommodation should bo provided in the building for British and American 'Service' men. This generous gift was gratefully accepted and enabled us to embark upon the larger scheme realised to-day.

"Messrs. Leigh and Orange were employed as architects and in the summer of 1923 the contract was awarded to Mr. Lam Woo. Work on the foundations was begun at once and the foundation  stone was laid by Sir Edward Stubbs on the 21st January, 1924. We rejoice now that the building is practically completed and that you, Sir, have opened it for us to-day, feeling confident that this Association will successfully fill a long-felt want in the Colony. Mr. J. H. Hunt, an experience secretary from England, arrived some time ago to take charge of the work and the Directors consider themselves fortunate in having obtained his services.

“So much for the past,—Now a word about the future. The building in which we stand, commodious as it is, is not the complete structure we hope to see here some day. When granting the site, the Governor, at the time, expressed the desire that the Directors in planning their building would take into account future, as well as present, needs of Hongkong. This suggestion has been followed and plans are already prepared "for extention along both streets to the rear of this building to contain swimming bath, bowling alleys, gymnasium, additional social rooms and bed-rooms. It is our intention to carry on with the scheme just as soon as sufficient funds are available. I consider this a most important scheme for the Colony and can heartily recommend it to any one who can, and may be, disposed to help.  It will prove a wise investment for the future of this Colony. It is also our intention to endeavour to secure a playing field, an undertaking in which we trust the Government will help.


In closing I should not like to leave the impression that the Directors are under the delusion that the building will make the Association. Buildings have not made the Y.M.C.A. what it is all round the world. Necessary as a building is, the personnel of staff and the spirit of its membership are even more important. Whilst possessing the facilities of a Club, the Association is more than a Club in the ordinary sense. At its best, it is an aggregation of men who should enter it quite so much for what they can give as for. what they expect to get. In this spirit and its largest and fullest interpretation, may this branch of a world-wide organization fulfil the high part in the future development of the moral, physical and social life in the Colony we believe it is destined to do.— (Applause.)    


“It is fitting that before I sit down, I should acknowledge the very generous gift of the beautiful mirror from the sister Chinese Branch, which has been a thriving Institution for many, years past in Hongkong, as well as the good wishes which accompanied, it and which are most cordially reciprocated by us all.

I hope that the future will see many more of the inter-Branch contests and meetings between the two Institutions which so successfully took place before, and were the means of promoting both good fellowship and a better understanding, because I am convinced that one of the great needs of the Colony to-day,-and which has been emphasised more particularly during the last few months, is a common ground for meeting and commingling with our Chinese friends, that we may the better understand each other and create that atmosphere of mutual trust and friendship, without which neither the Y.M.C.A., nor the Colony can achieve their best results.”—Applause.)


H.E. The Governor (Mr. Cecil CLEMENTI, C.M.G.) addressing the gathering, said it had been a great pleasure to him to open this spacious and well-appointed building, and to hear from the President and the Vice-President something of the work the Young Men's Christian Association had been doing in this Colony of late. The Y.M.C.A. wasalready a strong institution before the Great War when he last knew its work in Hongkong. Since the war its membership had increased until its members now numbered more than two million, and there were few countries without it. Only last year he was at Colombo when a fine Y.M.C.A. building was opened there. Hongkong had even a finer building. Although this structure must be one of the best which the Y.M.C.A. had in the. Far East, there still remained some improvements that were desirable. Provision had not been made for recreation, physical or mental. It was very desirable that the scheme for the building of a gymnasium, bowling alleys and a swimming bath should be carried out as soon as funds permitted. A good library was also essential. He saw the nucleus of one  was there, and trusted that it would be extended. It was the hope of Sir Edward Stubbs that this institution would have adequate playing fields, and in this regard he would certainly make good his predecessor's promises.—(Applause.) He trusted that the well-known generosity of the Hongkong public would before long supply some of the outstanding needs of the institution which had not been satisfied. It was not only, as Mr. Holyoak had said, bricks and mortar and playing fields that were of supreme value to this Association the Assocation stood for a very high ideal—the ideal of perfect manhood. Perfection was hard to get in any sphere, especially as regards human beings. Notwithstanding, they would do well to remember, and history told them, that the aspirations that had  seemed unattainable in one millenium had become everyday achievements in the next millennium. No one could be blamed for “hitching his waggon to a star,.” and he trusted that the  real ideals  that Christianity stood for would be realised in this institution.—(Applause.)


The Rev. J. Kirk MacoNACHIE, being called to say a few words, said he understood he was asked to speak as one representing, the organised Christian communities    of the Colony in addition to the Bishop, who would dedicate the building with prayer. It was a safe thing to say that the Y.M.C.A. had, without reservation, the good-will of all the Christian communities. His recollections of the Y.M.C.A. in Hongkong did not go back as far as some of those who had spoken: it came upon disaster not long after his arrival in the Colony—though he did not suggest his arrival had ought to do with it. He remembered the quiet times they had in the old building and the dismay when it had to be evacuated at, he thought, 24 hours’ notice. He felt it keenly when it was found impossible to proceed with a new building then, but he hoped the delay of ten years had brought compensations. They were now starting with a larger and finer building than would have been possible then. His Excellency had mentioned that he was present at the opening of the new Y.M.C.A. building in Colombo. He himself passed through Colombo about a month ago and among the things of interest to be seen was a building on a. modest and humble scale outside, which was the legend "Y.M.B.A." —the Buddhist Association. He was only glad to think that those whose religious methods offered so much from our own had been stirred up in the interests of the young men.

In this new building the young men of the Colony had set before them a valuable gift of which they all hoped and prayed full advantage would be taken. Those present would be very glad to hear that, all the rooms were taken and even before the building was opened there were 100 members upon the books.  That was very promising beginning and he hoped, a presage of a larger and continued service for the good of the, Colony.—(Applause.)

Prayers were then said by the Bishop of VICTORIA, who closed the meeting with the benediction.

A description of the building has already appeared in the Daily Press, but to this might be added the information that the Engineering Department of Messrs. Holyoak, Massey Co., Ltd., were responsible for the installation of the hot water system, comprising one cast iron sectional boiler manufactured by the National Radiator Co. of Hull, and one galvanized steel storage cylinder having a capacity of 300 gallons. Hot water is available in all bedrooms bathrooms, kitchen, pantry, etc., and the circulation is assisted by the installation of one motor-driven Turbo-Accelerator manufactured by Messrs. G. N. Haden & Sons, Ltd., of Trowbridge. Provision has also been made for the installation of three automatic electric refrigerators—“ Kelvinators"—one machine being installed for the present. In addition to the above, the same firm have also installed automatic switch control for the various pumps.

Date picture taken
27 Nov 1925