I firmly believe that the vibrancy and resilience of YMCA Exeter is rooted in its commitment to sharing the good news of God’s love in relevant and practical ways.

The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter

Founded in November 1846, YMCA Exeter is one of the oldest YMCAs in the world and in 2021 we will be celebrating our 175th anniversary.

On 6 June 1844, 22 year-old Somerset-born George Williams joined 11 friends to organise 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 of London. Then just two years later, our local story begins with Exeter philanthropist John Dinham, who caught the vision of the national YMCA movement and was passionate about creating an Exeter expression. The very first meeting was held in Gandy Street and our vision remains the same as during that mid-Victorian era, to share God’s love by creating communities where everyone can belong, contibute and thrive.

Whether you studied at the university, have worshipped in the cathedral or are an avid Chiefs supporter, Exeter is a city we are proud of. Yet for some, their attachment is with Exeter’s YMCA. From a place of rest during the WW2 to a place of learning in the 21st century, YMCA has played a fundamental role in Exeter’s recent history. Come and join us in our ongoing story of family, friendship and heritage.

Celebrate with us

Celebration Events

  • Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving – Sunday 7th November, 2021 @ Exeter Cathedral

Book a speaker for your community event

Our team are available to deliver talks both online and in-person and take your audience on a journey through our local history. Contact us. 

Dip into YMCA's historical photo album

Buy our history book

Number of copies

More coming soon!