Association, Mr. J. Burrows, reported in 1969 that an application had been made to the Department of Education and Science for a grant towards the erection of a new Gymnasium at an estimated cost of £13,000. The application was successful, a grant was made and the building erected. It has been of inestimable service to the members of the Barry YMCA.
This Association was founded in 1871. Despite recent exhaustive enquiries, no information is available in respect of the location of the building in which it made its first home. The valuable site secured in Pontmorlais Square in the centre of the town was rather restricted for the purpose for which it was acquired, as whilst it had width it lacked depth. This necessitated planning a four or five-storey structure. The building was completed in 1908 at a cost of £8,000. The lounge and gymnasium were located on the fourth and fifth floor respectively; access to all floors being provided by a concrete stairway in the centre of the building.
A strong general committee representing the Merthyr businessmen directed the affairs of the Association; one of the founder members being Mr. J. Mathias Berry, (the father of Lord Buckland, Lord Camrose and Viscount Kemsley) who evinced much interest in the project and made substantial contributions towards the cost of maintenance.
The committee appointed Mr. G. Thorne as Secretary. He held office for six years but resigned when war broke out in 1914. The Association flourished at that time with a vigorous membership and activities excelled.
Some of the older members, however, are reported to have sighed for the friendly atmosphere of the old two storey building.
The Association in Merthyr suffered as did many Associations in South Wales during the first war. Problems abounded. Several members and secretaries joined the Forces and there were insufficient experienced leaders at the Welsh National Council to give the assistance needed. The two most capable and experienced Secretaries, who had been available when the decision to build the new elaborate YMCA had been taken, were called to service elsewhere by the National Council of YMCAs, the one to responsible work in the Metropolitan area, and the other, it would appear, eventually' gave up YMCA work.
A new Secretary for the Merthyr YMCA was appointed, Mr. Herbert Phelps, but after three years, he left to take up Association work in England. He was succeeded by the Rev. Morgan of Tredegar but he found the duties of Secretary onerous and resigned after only a few years.
For several years, the Leadership of the Movement in Merthyr was in the care of laymen and Voluntary Workers, who made valiant efforts to sustain the work, but after twenty six years of YMCA service the doors closed. The Merthyr Corporation purchased the property in 1934.