The YMCA and Cory Hall were next-door neighbours in Station Terrace, opposite the entrance to Queen Street Station. Both dated from the period around 1900.
The YMCA traces its origins to 1844, when a group of London drapery workers, led by George Williams, formed the Drapers Evangelistic Association. It soon changed its name to Young Men’s Christian Association and broadened its purposes to introduce an educational element. Other associations quickly opened across Britain and around the world.
Cardiff YMCA was founded in 1852 in St Mary Street. It occupied various sites during its first half-century before erecting purpose-built premises in Station Terrace. Designed by local architects J.P. Jones, Richards & Budgen, the building had five storeys and a basement. As well as living and boarding accommodation, it provided a gymnasium, lecture theatre, classrooms, a library and reading room. The ground-floor frontage included two shops – one of which was originally designed as a restaurant. Its foundation stone was laid in 1899 by Sir George Williams and it opened the following year.
The Cory Memorial Temperance Hall was built at a cost of £5,000 and presented to the temperance societies of Cardiff by John Cory (1828 – 1910), as a memorial to his late father, Richard. Richard Cory (1799 -1882) had founded the family’s shipping and coal mining businesses. He was a leader of the Methodist movement in Cardiff and supported various social, educational, moral and Christian activities in the area. As the temperance movement developed in Cardiff, he is reputed to have been the first to sign ‘the pledge’.
By the 1970s, plans were afoot to redevelop the area bounded by Queen Street, Churchill Way, Station Terrace and North Edward Street – now the Capitol Shopping Centre. In anticipation of this, other premises in the area had closed and were becoming rundown. The Cory Hall was subject to a lease of 99 years from 1896 and, with rising overheads and running costs, the trustees decided to sell. The Cory Memorial Trust Fund invested the proceeds – £72,262.88 – which they continued to apply to causes in the Cardiff district which were in line with the original founders’ vision. The charity was de-registered in 2001. The YMCA also moved from Station Terrace. In 1974, they purchased a former convent school in The Walk, to continue their youth and community work and, subsequently, to develop a hostel for students and young workers.
David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer
Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/4]
Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, proposed YMCA, Station Terrace, 1898 [BC/S/1/13196]
Porter Family of Cardiff and Somerset Papers, Cory Memorial Trust Fund report, 1974-89 [DX416/2/1]