In 1936 a small group of people in Scunthorpe were much concerned by the lack of juvenile organisations working to develop a higher sense of citizenship among the young people of the town, and by the absence of facilities for existing organisations.
The town had been growing rapidly and residents were constantly being asked too provide their own resources for buildings and facilities long in existence in other towns.
A committee was formed and it managed to secure £8,000 from the King George V Jubilee Trust towards the building of a Youth Centre.
“The excellent site on which the Youth Centre stands was provided by the Scunthorpe Borough Council on a 99 year lease at a nominal rent. Previously the local gasworks was sited here. A grant of £2,500 was made towards the capital cost by the then Board of Education under the Physical Fitness and Recreation Act, 1937. The equipment was provided mainly from local donations. Maintenance monies were partly secured by the interest shown in the project by the County Council. For the first year a grant of £500 was promised and it was expected that this grant would be renewed annually. This was so and the grant was increased when the maintenance costs increased.
The building was designed by a Dr Martin, and Messrs Buttrick and Buttrick were the architects responsible for its execution. The building contract was placed with Messrs W Pallister in July 1938.
A meeting on 4th May 1939 recorded the building was nearing completion.
A nucleus of young people were trained to become leaders at the former Baptist Chapel in Doncaster Road, (the Baptist Chapel later became part of the Scunthorpe Telegraph offices and printing works.)
Mr. Fulton was appointed warden but he resigned in May 1939 due to ill health.
Arrangements were made to open the Youth Centre in September 1939. The Duke of Gloucester was to perform the opening ceremony. It was also decided to turf the forecourt of the centre.
The plans were disrupted by the outbreak of war in September 1939 but history notes the Duke and Duchess did eventually visit in July 1949.
The position at the beginning of the war was: A well built and equipped Youth Centre which the committee could not and dare not use for the purposes intended for the War Department had acquired the building for the war effort.
A capital sum of £12,336 had been spent towards which grants and donations had been received amounting to £11,463, thus leaving a deficit of £873. There was also a deficit of £200 arising on maintenance account. The outbreak of war therefore found the committee without the means of carrying out its work with a debt of over £1,000 it could not liquidate. On April 8th 1940 the final statement in the building account showed that the contract for the building was £11,159 and a final cost of £10,449 14s 7d.
The centre was eventually restored to the committee at the end of 1941. Under the agreement with the Borough Council, the buildings and furniture were to be restored to their original condition. As it was impracticable to get repair and decorative work done at that time, the committee agreed to accept a lump sum in settlement of the dilapidations incurred. When repair work was done the costs had risen considerably and it was not possible to carry out work on the sum agreed.
The minutes record that in December 1941 the youth club had a membership of 179 boys and 53 girls. The building was also being used by the Air Training Corps, the Boy Scouts, Sea Cadets and the St. Lawrence’s Church Youth Club.
A meeting in July 1942 decided to make the building available to a variety of youth groups in the town. On 13th August 1942, the Doncaster Road Boys School was given approval to use the craft room.
Sanction was given on September 10th 1942 to repair the centres two billiard tables at a cost of £7 10s.
Owing to the housing difficulties the warden wa given permission on 25th November to reside in the centre, and Miss Blackburn was appointed lady warden on 4th December 1942. On 27th January 1943 a caretaker was appointed at the rate of 1s an hour.
The Doncaster Road Girls secondary School was recorded as using the centre at 10s per week.
Boot repairing classes were being held in the centre and a school leavers club met every Tuesday with the boys and girls ‘cabinet’ meeting every Sunday afternoon.
In October 1944 a Mr. G M Masheder was named as the new warden, classes included woodwork, gymnastics and drama.
In the 1950s the pattern of youth work was slightly different than today with the girls having separate activities to those of the boys with mixing only allowed on special occasions. By the end of 1950 the Doncaster Road School was using 5 rooms at the youth centre for lessons.
On 23rd January 1953 there was a broadcast from the centre and for several years the Music Festival took place in the hall.
The Bulldog Breed Society used the hall for its show in October 1953 and the Co-op Guide also held the drama festival there.
At the Queens Coronation Carnival the Youth Centre entered to floats in the procession – Youth at Work and Youth at Play.
Finance remained a problem and on July 8th 1953 he deficit stood at £1,1776 9s 5d.
Prior to December 1954 the Rotary Club had visited the centre to find out how best they could support the work. On 14th December 1954 the question of a gramophone being played in the canteen to the discomfort of other members was discussed. The concert party was busy giving shows to OAP’s and the Appleby-Frodingham Theatrical Society used the hall on a number of occasions.
There had also been a succession of wardens when Miss D Lyth became warden in September 1955, she stayed until March 1958.
The centre was being used by many organisations, Scunthorpe Sword Club, St, John’s Ambulance Brigade, Scunthorpe Archery Society, Scunthorpe Table Tennis League, Lysaght’s Chess Club, Lysaght’s Drama Groups, the Townswomen’s Guild Appleby Frodingham Theatrical Society, Scunthorpe Music festival, Scunthorpe Co-operative Society, the boilermakers union and the Scunthorpe Chrysanthemum Society to name but a few.
The Youth Centre belonged to the Lindsey Association of Youth Clubs and entered into the rally at Skegness in May 1955 coming first in the competition for lawn tennis, violin solo and second in the singing competitions.
In 1958 the Scunthorpe Borough Council paid half of the cost of surfacing the rear of the centre and marking out for tennis and cricket practise.
From April 1958 Mrs Violet Cooper-Allen became the first part-time lady warden, taking over full time from September 1958.
July 1960 saw the first annual sports day held on High Ridge School playing field, it was at this time that the centres monthly magazine started.
Councillor Hugh Giblin, the mayor at the time, gave half of his appeal fund to the centre, some £1.222 2s 1d.
After the signing of an alliance with Luneburg in Germany the Youth Centre started a series of exchange visits, the members raising funds to assist with the entertainment and outings on the return visits to Scunthorpe. One of the highlights of these was a visit to Lord St Oswald’s home at Nostell Priory.
Eventually this exchange was handed over to the Borough Youth officer as the question of finance overtook the centre. The very large membership at this time made frantic efforts to wipe off the long existing overdraft and by raising some £2,500 they managed to do this for the time being.
Pantomimes continued to be a tradition and the Civic theatre was used for many productions by the youth centre.
Mr. W Moore was appointed as assistant warden early in 1962 and the centre also employed a full-time caretaker. A youth fund for the aged was set up to give immediate assistance to any senior citizen in need. The annual dinner dance became established and a town draw raised £360.
In November 1963 a workshop had been erected at the rear of the centre for use by members and a jukebox purchased. The joining fee was 3s and 1s per week subscription, with juniors paying 3s and 6d per week subscription.
Alterations took place in the building and the girls’ table tennis room became part of the canteen and games area.
In the 1970s the centre was again struggling financially and an agreement was reached that the centre come under the umbrella of Humberside County Council and the land to the rear of the centre being sold to Scunthorpe Borough Council to offset the centre’s overdraft.
On December 3rd 1979 the centre celebrated its 40th birthday with a party for past and present members. It was around this time the centre became used for youth services training courses under the NEBULEA program – Not Employed But Undergoing Leisure Educational Activities.
Mrs Cooper-Allen retired in October 1981 after 23 years service in full-time youth work.
In 2007 the Youth Centre was demolished after the services were move to the former Screen under the Central Library.
The site of the Youth Centre now forms part of The Baths Hall.
The picture below features members of the Youth Centre’s football team from 1945.
In the photo is Charlie Haines (Goalkeeper) who was brought up on Spencer Avenue, and along with other youngsters in the area joined the youth club.
He attended Crosby Infants and juniors and then the Doncaster Road Boys secondary School.
At the time the youth centre opened every day except Sundays, closing a 10pm.
The photograph shows the youth club’s junior team, which was effectively the second team. The junior side played in the Scunthorpe and District League on a Saturday; their home games were played on Doncaster Road, near the Grammar School.
They travelled to places like Broughton and Scawby and on the odd occasions hired a bus but mainly travelled by private car or cycled.
Charlie played for the youth centre until he was around 16 or 17 and then moved on to other teams, finishing up playing for Appleby-Frodingham – where he also worked as an apprentice fitter/engineer. He worked most of his life at the Appleby-Frodingham steelworks, which was only broken by a spell in the army.