Youth clubs form part of an intricate patchwork of the bedrock of modern Britain. As Britain’s – and indeed the world’s – oldest youth club, St Andrew’s Club is uniquely placed to tell the little-known story of the youth movement. Clubs like St Andrew’s have been important social drivers, pre-empting reform and improving the lives of the less fortunate in society, they serve as a foundation for local communities and as a hub for individual achievement. This online space will help develop a deeper understanding of the motivations, challenges, and successes which faced the first of what became many boys’ clubs.
On this website, you will find a rare, historic archive, among other archival material such as an eBook, which features the Club’s in-house publication known as The Chronicle, first published in 1883, written and published by members and old boys of St Andrew’s Club. The Chronicle was a way for members to keep in touch and report on their progress to each other as they moved on from the Club. As the youth movement grew in the 19th century and as St Andrew’s Club became more widely known, it attracted an impressive array of supporters from Royalty to members of the House of Lords. As of 2016, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has been the patron of the Federation’s successor organisation, London Youth, for over 70 years, beginning his patronage in 1947. This archive is a collection of hundreds of images which paint an intriguing picture of the youth movement over three centuries. Users may also find free downloads, a short film, an interactive map and educational materials on this website. See BBC London News’ report on the story and the short film on the history of the youth movement above and below this text.
A Potted History of St Andrew’s Club
St Andrew’s Club was founded in the spirit of Victorian philanthropy for the young working men of London struggling to survive during the Industrial Revolution. Boys from the ages of 12 to 18 paid their wages into the Club and in return received an education, a place to stay and a rigorous sports programme.
In 1883 a monthly newsletter, The Chronicle, was established to act as a means of communication between members past and present. The Chronicle’s value was in maintaining and fostering the community centred around St Andrew’s which still thrives to this day.
After a move to larger premises in Dean Street and then to a purpose-built building in Great Peter Street in 1885, the foundations were laid for a century of pioneering youth work that transformed the lives of many young people and moulded some entirely.
St Andrew’s pre-eminence in youth work continued into the 20th Century, with the desire to improve the lives of London’s disadvantaged young workers outweighed by any financial burdens incurred.
St Andrew’s 50th anniversary fell in 1916, in the middle of the First World War. As 250 Old Boys served in the conflict St Andrew’s anniversary was postponed. The Club relied on those members still at home to sustain the service and it continued to operate in war-time London.
During the Second World War members and Old Boys were kept in touch via a newsletter delivered to all parts of the globe. On November 11th, 1940, the Home at Great Peter Street was destroyed in the Blitz, fortunately with no loss of life.
After the War, the Club was rebuilt and became the blueprint for future youth clubs. By the centenary in 1966, St Andrew’s had opened its doors to girls and young women. This led the way in providing activities for young women, which was greatly in demand at the time.
Alec Wizard, a former member turned President, established the new St Andrew’s. In September 1984, our current premises, Alec Wizard House, was opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. St Andrew’s continues to provide exciting and meaningful programmes for over 700 members each year. It continues to meet the demands of the day with innovation and invention while holding onto proven practices that have worked for more than 150 years – a priceless community asset.
"Jo Stanghon and Lesley Rider, sisters, talk with real fondness and enthusiasm about the Club that has been an important part of their families' lives for nearly 100 years."