The Samuel Montagu Youth Centre (then the Samuel Montagu Boys’ Club) was opened in 1963. The club was one of the 20 clubs set up by the London Federation of Boys’ Clubs (now the Federation of London Youth Clubs) to extend its affiliated clubs to the outer circle of Inner London – boroughs such as Greenwich, Wandsworth, Lewisham and Haringey. The largest sum of £50,000 (over £500,000 at today’s prices) was given by the directors of the merchant bankers, Samuel Montagu and Company. The new facilities included a canteen, meeting rooms, a snooker room, a boxing gym, a sports gymnasium, and playing fields.
The club was run successfully as an all-boys’ club until 1998, when it began to offer provision for all young people on five evenings a week (including specialist activities for girls and young women) and was widely used at weekends for sporting activities. In addition to the youth centre, a boxing club operated on three evenings a week with members competing regularly as well as arranging boxing shows throughout the year. In 2011, the centre raised the funds to build an all-weather pitch, which is extensively used by football teams throughout the year.
The rental fees from this facility are crucial to the centre’s financial viability. The centre was also enabled by a 2012 Olympics legacy to construct a beach volleyball facility. Half of the centre’s playing fields are leased to the Old Shootershillians Rugby Club. The other half is used by the centre and rented out to football teams in the area. The centre’s premises are also rented out for mainly day-time use to a variety of organisations, such as Wize-up, which is an alternative, short-stay community for school children and The ReWise Project.
The centre has three important strands to its work:
- as a youth centre, catering for the leisure and social needs of local young people
- as a sports development facility, offering specialist facilities for sports, recreational and community groups
- as a community centre, facilitating the activities of voluntary & community groups and providing support to further their aims
The Trustees are particularly keen to develop the first of these strands. The centre’s youth provision has been reduced in recent years due to the cutbacks in local authority expenditure, which have had a particularly adverse impact on the Youth Service. The restoration of the centre’s youth work to previous levels will depend on the ability to attract additional funds from charities, trusts and other donors. The centre’s work is directed and supported by a Board of Trustees. There are at present four trustees, and the Board is chaired by Clive Efford, the MP for Eltham.
SAMUEL MONTAGU YOUTH CENTRE Registered Charity Number 303332