A DISTRICT SECRETARY MATCHES THE HOUR
The challenge of the early years of the 20th century was matched by the appointment of the YMCA Secretary for Wales who was to succeed W.R. Thomas in 1899. He was Gwilym James, a Welsh speaking Welshman who had previous experience of YMCA service in the London region.
The record of the new Secretary's work and his dedication to it vindicates the statement that he was the complete organiser and an outstanding Secretary. Furthermore, he gave unbroken service for fourteen years. When war broke out in 1914, the call came to him to return to London to be responsible for YMCA work in the Metropolitan area.
His first efforts in Wales were directed to the consolidation of existing Associations. At the same time, a survey was made of the most appropriate districts in which efforts should be made to establish new YMCAs. Like his predecessor, Gwilym James used the conference method to promote spiritual inspiration and publicity for the Gospel. He preached of the need for the Christian influence among young men in Wales.
His vision was expressed in his first annual report to the National Council and the following paragraph is an extract from the Council Report of 1900: "The need for a forward movement is clearly shown by the fact that there are, in the principality, in addition to a number of large villages, upwards of 170 cities and large towns unoccupied with YMCAs. In a large number of towns the need for a definite Christian Agency like the YMCA is very great."
In three years excellent results were achieved and Associations were opened in the following districts:
Associations re-opened were:
YMCA Building Schemes
The last few years of the century witnessed a vast upsurge of Association building planning throughout Britain with new concepts of substantial buildings with varieties of accommodation, to house projected activities and including residential blocks. Examples of these palatial edifices were the new premises at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Birmingham, Leicester, Bristol and Cardiff Central.
The days of rented rooms had gone and committees were turning to purpose planned structures. This, to a lesser degree, was the trend in Wales. Between 1907 and 1913 several substantial schemes were undertaken as follows: