The Thorney Island Society has just celebrated its 30th anniversary, so it was with a due sense of humility that we visited our next door neighbour, the Saint Andrew's club, on the occasion of the President's Reception to mark its 150th anniversary.  St Andrew's is the oldest youth club in the world. It pretty well invented them at a time when the social effects of the industrial revolution made life very difficult for young people. This was especially true in the area of Old Pye Street - which had been dubbed "The Devil's Acre" by Charles Dickens - and to which the club eventually moved (much later) from its first home in Soho. 
Today it is a thriving organisation, much bigger than a cursory look inside the door would suggest, occupying several storeys with a football pitch on the top floor. It engages 700 members in a variety of activities including boxing, football, karate, judo, cooking, graffiti art and theatre. Women make up around 25% of membership but have a much higher participation rate than the boys. 
The club is located in Old Pye Street at the junction with St Ann's Lane - just as we are - but is not tied to any of the local estates. It aims to give any youngsters confidence and self-respect, opening their lives to new options. It has nurtured plenty of successes including one youth, Ramsey, who told the gathering that St Andrew's turned his life around and enabled him to become a cameraman with Sky News.
Compared with St Andrew's, our archive is a tiny space. One of the women at the celebration remembers buying sweets from there with her 50p a week pocket money when it was a sweet shop. 
Although the club is thriving at the operational level, it also faces challenges as so many voluntary organisations do these days.  It gets no financial assistance from government or local councils and is always looking out for new sponsors and donors. If you are interested contact them or donate via their website
With the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant the club is in the throes of digitising its archive including the history of youth clubs in general and all the issues of its own newsletter, The Chronicle, going back to 1883! The archive can be found at
We wish our neighbour every success for the future.