Members of this club were most likely part of the congregation of the Renwick Free Church. To go back a bit to the early nineteenth century, the congregation was known as the Southern Reformed Presbyterian Congregation and their church was located on Salisbury Street, located in the south side of the city in the Laurieston area. (For more information on this area, see ‘Gorbals, Glasgow. Laurieston Guide‘ on the ScotCities website). The City Union Railway bought the building in 1868 and a new church was built on nearby Cumberland Street. Eight years later they joined the Free Church. (For more information on the history of this congregation, see ‘Glasgow — Renwick‘ on the Ecclegen website.)
The Glasgow Foundry Boys Religious Society was instituted in 1865, twenty-three years before the founding of the Youths Reading and Recreation Club was started under its auspices.
The Glasgow Post Office directories for the early years of the twentieth century show that the Glasgow Foundry Boys Religious Society was a huge organisation whose quickly growing membership only began to decline at the start First World War. In 1902, it had on its rolls ‘16,861 lads and girls, and 1848 voluntary workers’ (‘Glasgow Foundry Boys’ Religious Society’, ‘Religious and Moral Institutions’, Post Office Glasgow Directory for 1902-1903… (Glasgow: Aird & Coghill, 1902), p. 151). The number of young men and women members rose to almost 18,000 in 1906, but by 1914, it had ‘14,652 lads and girls, and 1561 voluntary workers […] [with] 83 branches in the city and suburbs’ (‘Glasgow Foundry Boys Religious Society’, ‘Institutions’, Post Office Glasgow Directory for 1914-1915… (Glasgow: Aird & Coghill, 1914), p. 1793).
The Youths Reading and Recreation Club of the Glasgow Foundry Boys Religious Society was founded in 1888 in conjunction with the Renwick Sabbath School, and was aimed at the senior boys in the school. According to the 1888 Annual Report, it had been so successful that it was made into a separate group.
According to the 1897 Annual Report, the club was still going strong in that year. It was reported that in the winter, the boys met in the Large Hall at the church for reading and recreational activities. In the summer, the club morphed into a swimming club that met at on Friday nights at the South-Side Baths.
Date of Existence
1888-(intermittently) 1897 (at least)
Source of Information
Renwick Church of Scotland, Glasgow Foundry Boy’s Religious Society, South Cumberland Street Branch, later called Renwick Halls branch, minutes 1887-98 (Minute entry, 17 December 1888, Youths Club, ‘Annual Report for 1888’; ‘Annual Report’, G.F.B.R.S. — Renwick Halls Branch, April 1897)
Glasgow City Archives