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In 1934, a section of the roof of the gymnasium in one of the huts, collapsed and this rendered the hut unsafe for further use. At that time substantial money grants were received by the South Wales Federation of Boys' Clubs for the purpose of erecting new buildings for boys work. Due to the good relationship between the Federation and the Welsh YMCA, a grant of £500., was allocated to rebuild the gymnasium. The Association was much indebted to Captain J. Glynn Jones, Secretary of the Federation, for this good neighbourly gesture. Co-operation between the staffs of the two organisations was a notable feature. The National Secretary of the Welsh YMCA was, for a long period, the Honorary Educational Secretary of the Federation.

The replacement of the damaged hut with new timbered sections would have been like adding a patch of new cloth to an old garment. It was decided therefore, to reconstruct the layout of the building and to erect a new gymnasium in permanent materials and at a later date replacing all timbered sections by a newly planned structure leaving the gymnasium the prominent feature of the complex.

The building of the gymnasium proceeded and was undertaken by a direct labour force of two or three part time workers and a large group of voluntary helpers, mostly older boys and a few adult committee members.

Difficulties in site preparation had to be overcome. It was found that a rubbish tip covered nearly half the proposed site of the gymnasium. This necessitated excavating an area of forty feet by thirty feet to a depth of eighteen feet (without mechanical excavators!) in order to reach solid ground to lay foundations to carry eighteen inch concrete walls.

A group of approximately sixty unemployed boys volunteered to work in the day time, under the control of two or three adults, while older employed boys put in two or three hours in the evening, after a day's work at the coal face.

They also mixed concrete for those solid concrete walls up to ground floor level and for a raft of concrete entwined with stout steel pit rope to cover the whole site of the gymnasium.

Two unemployed miners accustomed to brick laying, laid all the brick work to a height of sixteen feet to the eaves of the roof. Messrs. Dawnay Co., Cardiff, prepared and erected the steel trusses and purlins. A young unemployed carpenter's assistant, a member of the Association, fixed the roof timbers and laid the boarded floors.

The whole of this sixty by thirty feet gymnasium hall and a spacious basement, designed as a craft workshop, were constructed and completed with the usual odds and ends, at a cost of £675.


The success of the Aberaman venture and earlier experiences of utilising direct labour at Glan-y-Mor, the YMCA Holiday Centre, opened up prospects of further Association developments in constructing YMCA buildings for boys work in the mining valleys. What could be achieved at Aberaman could be accomplished in other areas.

Mr. Edmund Hann, the Managing Director of the Powell Duffryn Colliery Co., presided at the opening of the new YMCA gymnasium Hall at Aberaman in 1935. In the course of his address, Mr. Hann said this:

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