In 1844, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences.
Twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer turned department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.
Although an association of young men meeting around a common purpose was nothing new, the organization offered something unique for its time. The organization’s drive to meet social need in the community was compelling, and its openness to members crossed the rigid lines separating English social classes.
Years later, the need for a YMCA in Ipoh was mooted by Rev. W.E. Horley and Rev. Law Yip Heng. They together with other local Christians in Ipoh started the Chinese Young Men's Christian Society in 1917.
Meetings were held at various nearby locations opposite the Anglo Chinese School, Ipoh which Rev. Horley founded.
Later, a new shop house was purchased at Lahat Road and the inauguration of the new Secretariat was held on August 31, 1967. For the next 30 years the Association grew with new members and many community based activities.
As membership grew, the Secretariat with its limited space was not able to handle the many demanding activities of the Association. An opportunity arose in 1997 for the Association to purchase 10 acres of rubber land in Pusing. The Board took a brave decision on March 13, 1997 to sell the Secretariat building at Lahat Road with the hope of relocating to Pusing. However, plans for a new Secretariat in Pusing did not materialise because of the lack of funds to develop the place and its distance from Ipoh.
However, in October 2007, an idea was mooted to set up a nature camp for youths in Pusing. Several camp buildings were built and the first group of campers arrived on March 27, 2009 and stayed there for 2 days. Since then, there were few campers and the place was under utilised. At a Board Meeting on August 25, 2011 the members decided to sell the camp site. The sale was completed in April 2012 and the search was on again for a new premise to house the Lahat Road YMCA.
In the year 2014, the Lahat Road YMCA purchased a 3 storey shop house at No. 46, Jalan Hussein Nordin, located opposite the Perak Stadium with the intention of housing the Secretariat. However, after much deliberation, the new Board of Directors decided not to go ahead with the costly renovations. Moreover, the location of the shop house was not ideal as the building front faced the unsightly back of a row of double storey shop houses. The shop house was also not visible from the main road. The building was sold in 2016 and the Board members are currently waiting for an opportune time to purchase an ideal building.
Lahat Road YMCA has currently secured the ground floor of a double storey shophouse located at 15 Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil (Clarke Street), 30450 Ipoh for its activities.