st john's gym & Boys club

st john's gym & Athletics club

An early club for boys of Yeovil


The popular St John's Gym and Athletics Club (later the St John's Gym and Boys' Club) started life in the St John's Schoolrooms in Church Street during 1919, where it remained until the late 1940s or early 1950s, when it moved to the Victoria Temperance Hall in South Street.

Mike Bolton remembers "Gymnastics was a feature and there was a snooker table on the first floor. The gym was run in my time (1955-1960) by Roy Warren, known as 'Skip'  or 'Pop' (photographed at left) and Harold Rendall, among others. On one memorable occasion, it was visited by Frankie Vaughan. I'm sure the Western featured photos of the occasion, as I'm pretty certain my mother bought a copy.

The club ran a number of successful football teams that played in local leagues. The senior team latterly played their home matches in the Larkhill Stadium that had earlier been the greyhound track and stock car racing venue at the top of Larkhill Road. Again, the "managers" in my time were Roy 'Skip' Warren and Harold Rendall.

Camping trips were organised by the Gym and I remember going to camp near Churston Ferrers near Paignton and to somewhere near Littlehampton."

The club closed (I believe) in the late 1960s.


From the Souvenir Programme of the Yeovil Festival of Youth, 12 May 1937...

"About 18 years ago the Club was formed with under a dozen members to promote the spiritual, physical and social welfare of boys and young men, and that it is fulfilling this aim is proved by the fact that membership has now reached 200.

The Vicar is President, and the Club is governed by the President, Vice-Presidents, and Club Leader, assisted by a General Committee of senior members elected annually. The Club is affiliated to the National Association of Boy's Clubs.

There are at present 90 members in the various gymnasium classes. The instructors have grown up in the Club and have been promoted as official instructors from the senior classes. They have had the benefit of special training at Mill Hill School through the Secondary Schoolmasters' Physical Education Association, and they give a great deal of time to the Club. The Club also has assistance and advice of the organisers of Physical Training for the Somerset County Council.

Four football teams, two of which are in the Yeovil and District League, are run during the winter; and senior and junior cricket teams are run in summer.

There is an inter-House competition for a Challenge Cup presented by Mr George Hart, to make indoor games more interesting; and a Reading-room and Library are other attractions. A Social Club meets on four evenings in the week.

An Annual Camp is arranged; there is a Thrift Club; and all members are insured through the NABC against accidents during Club activities.

New members must fill in a form of application, which can be obtained from any of the Officers of the Club, and later they are initiated into full Club membership at a special service held in the Parish Church, when they are presented with the Club Badge."






From my collection

A postcard, probably from the early 1930s, of the "Crowning of the Victor at the Olympian Games" and depicting members of the "St John's Church Boys' Gymnasium, Yeovil".


Courtesy of Mike Bolton

Mike Bolton, at left, playing with his chums on a camping trip, circa 1955, near Littlehampton, organised by the St John's Gym & Boys Club.


Courtesy of Mike Bolton

Boys from the St John's Gym & Boys Club surround Harold Rendall behind Roy 'Skip' Warren at centre on a camping trip near Broadsands, Churston Ferrers, Devon, in 1957.

Back row, left to right: Willy Wilcox, Mike Quaterman, Trevor Walbridge, unknown, Tony Burnett.

Next row, left to right: Pete Withy, Duncan Paine, Harding/Hardman?, unknown, unknown, Tiddy Tate, Gummer, unknown, unknown, Charlie Cleal, Roger Hardisty, unknown.

Middle row, left to right: Alan Evans, unknown, Roger Raison, Geoff Walbridge, Maurice Caine, unknown, Harold Rendall, ? Calway, Mike Bolton, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown.

Next row, left to right: Bob ?, unknown, Nipper Chant?, Mike Weston, unknown, Pop Warren, ? Parnell, Canadian lad, Keith ?, unknown, Clive Blundy.

Front row, left to right: ? Greatorex, Terry Padwick, Barry Seymour, REST UNKNOWN, until last boy, David Britain.


Courtesy of Mike Bolton

St Johns football team taken at Mudford Rec probably in the 1950s.

Back row, left to right: Harold Rendall, Terry Shaw, unknown, unknown, Oscar Howe (goalie), Ray Horton, unknown, Roy 'Skip' Warren. Front row, left to right: Chummy Sowden, unknown, Groger White, unknown, Pete Withy.


Courtesy of Mike Bolton

St Johns' football team in the early 1960s, again taken at Mudford Rec.

Back row, left to right: Bolton, Kelly, Lawrence, Mr Pound, unknown, Evans, unknown.
Front row, left to right: unknown, Quarterman, unknown, Salisbury, unknown.