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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
 
 
 
 

History of the ‘Y Club’ and the Inter Church Camps

The history of Railway Street Presbyterian Church, Lisburn would be incomplete without mentioning the tremendous work done by Harold and Meta Patterson at the Y Club, the Inter Church camps and the Sunday Night Youth Fellowship, (S.N.Y.F.) all of which were attended by many young members of the congregation.

Harold and Meta Patterson

Harold and Meta PattersonHarold Patterson grew up on a farm in Ballyhomra, near Hillsborough and the family worshipped at Anahilt Presbyterian Church.  After leaving school, he started working in his father’s shop – ‘Smyth Patterson’s Ltd.’ which was founded in 1936.  His father died in 1949, and the family moved to Clonevin Park, Lisburn and joined Railway Street Presbyterian Church.

As a teenager, he became a Christian through his Sunday school teacher at Railway Street Church, and commenced his lifetime involvement with Christian work.  He showed cine films up and down the country and was involved with ‘Youth for Christ’.  He became a Sunday School Teacher at Railway Street Church in 1946 during the ministry of the Rev. John K. Elliott (a photo of his 1946 Sunday School Class is shown in Chapter 8) and was ordained to the eldership of Railway Street in 1950 at just 21 years of age and is still active in visitation of his district.

Meta grew up in Dublin where her family were Quakers.  She became a born again Christian at 12 years of age and was very active in Christian Endeavour.  She loved working with teenagers and was leader of a Bible Class for teenagers.

Harold and Meta were married in Dublin in a Quakers Meeting House in 1957 and moved to Lisburn.  When this article was written in 2004, Harold and Meta Patterson’s three children, all married, had four grandchildren.

They lived in ‘Argyll House’ on the Limehill Road, outside Lisburn.  They wanted to get to know other Christians, so they held “squash” evenings in their home once a month on a Saturday evening.  They invited anybody and everybody, and with up to sixty young people attending, it really was a ‘SQUASH’.  The fellowship was great and different speakers came and gave very interesting talks.

 

Harold and Meta’s home ‘Argyll House’ where in the late 1950s, up to sixty young people attended a “squash” evening once a month on a Saturday evening.  The elevated site of the house on the Limehill Road provides a panoramic view of Lisburn. Smyth Patterson Ltd., Timber and Hardware shop in 1957.  Pictured outside is Harold’s Austin Ten car, and at the bottom of the entry is the timber yard.  The Lisburn city centre shop is now a modern ten-department store.

Harold and Meta’s home ‘Argyll House’ where in the late 1950s, up to sixty young people attended a “squash” evening once a month on a Saturday evening. The elevated site of the house on the Limehill Road provides a panoramic view of Lisburn.

Smyth Patterson Ltd., Timber and Hardware shop in 1957. Pictured outside is Harold's Austin Ten car, and at the bottom of the entry is the timber yard. The Lisburn city centre shop is now a modern ten-department store.

In July 1966, a summer camp was organised in Donegal for most of a week, assisted by leaders from the Saturday night ‘squash,’ this was the first of 33 years of camps.  There were about sixty young people at the first camp, the girls slept in the Manse house and the boys slept in the cow byre.  They all ate in a large marquee and Michael Perrott was the guest speaker.  The aim of the camp was to challenge young people about their Christian faith and encourage a new commitment to Jesus Christ.

Pim House, 3 Wallace Avenue, Lisburn

Pim House, 3 Wallace Avenue, Lisburn

The Y club operated from a former Y.W.C.A. hostel called Pim House, at 3 Wallace Avenue, in Lisburn.  The building, which was nearly 120 years old, acted as a home for young women over the decades.  The Y.W.C.A. hostel, which housed up to 15 girls at one time, was founded in memory of Miss Anna Pim, a Quaker lady who devoted her life to helping others.  Despite the success of the hostel, the demand began to wane in the early 1970’s and it slowly became used more for elderly people, than its original purpose.  The Y.W.C.A. decided to close the Hostel.

Meta Patterson was a committee member of the Hostel, so with the help of Harold Patterson and Michael Perrott (then Y.M.C.A. secretary, Belfast) a new committee was formed, and the Y club was born.  Almost £15,000 was spent renovating the inside of the building, walls taken down etc. and in October 1976 the Y Club was opened.  The American Lunar 15 astronaut, Col. Al Worden, officially opened the club on 6th April 1977.

Membership of the club grew to 130, with ages ranging from 15-twenties meeting every Friday and Saturday night from 7.00 to 10.00pm and on other nights for Bible study.  All sorts of games were played including snooker, pool, bar-football, table tennis, darts etc.  The coffee bar was very popular and provided a place for all to meet and chat.  Tommy Nelson, and his band of 20 voluntary assistant leaders kept things going.  The members used the Lisburn Technical College sports hall once a month for football, volleyball and indoor hockey.

The first Inter Church camp in 1966.  Railway Street Church members in the photo are:  Meta Patterson, third from the left with Trevor (left) and Hazel (right); Heather Henry’s head can just be seen over Meta’s shoulder; Doreen Anderson is directly behind Heather Henry; Carol McClelland (now McBurney) is sixth from the right in the front row; Smyth Patterson is directly behind Carol; Dorothy Rea (now McClelland) is on the right of Smyth; Edith McConnell is extreme right - front row, and Heather McClelland (now Bittle) is in the back row second from the left.

The first Inter Church camp in 1966.  Railway Street Church members in the photo are:  Meta Patterson, third from the left with Trevor (left) and Hazel (right); Heather Henry’s head can just be seen over Meta’s shoulder; Doreen Anderson is directly behind Heather Henry; Carol McClelland (now McBurney) is sixth from the right in the front row; Smyth Patterson is directly behind Carol; Dorothy Rea (now McClelland) is on the right of Smyth; Edith McConnell is extreme right - front row, and Heather McClelland (now Bittle) is in the back row second from the left.

The last Inter Church camp in 1998.  Railway Street Church members in the photo are:  Colin Jamieson with his daughter Sarah-Jane is on the extreme left.  Second row: Alan Meban (2nd from left) Andrew Coggins (3rd from left).  Standing: (first row) Claire Mitchell (left).  Standing: (second row) Laura Bittle (4th from left), Stuart Bittle (behind Laura), Abigail Gowdy, XXX McKibben, Roger Gowdy (white T-shirt) and Allister Brown behind Roger.  Ryan Wilson (back row on the right).  In the very back row: (centre of the picture) is Aaron King who was a faithful and hard working leader of the Y Club since it opened in 1977.

The last Inter Church camp in 1998.  Railway Street Church members in the photo are:  Colin Jamieson with his daughter Sarah-Jane is on the extreme left.  Second row: Alan Meban (2nd from left) Andrew Coggins (3rd from left).  Standing: (first row) Claire Mitchell (left).  Standing: (second row) Laura Bittle (4th from left), Stuart Bittle (behind Laura), Abigail Gowdy, Roger Gowdy (white T-shirt) and Allister Brown behind Roger.  Ryan Wilson (back row on the right).  In the very back row: (centre of the picture) is Aaron King who was a faithful and hard working leader of the Y Club since it opened in 1977.

The success of the Y Club was due to the committee, board of trustees and great voluntary leaders.  The Y Club broke down barriers between all sorts of young people, from the unemployed to university students, all denominations and unchurched people.

Over the years, the Y Club treasurer Ted Gould was responsible for obtaining education grants that helped modernise and maintain the 120-year-old building.  When interviewed in 2004, Meta Patterson said of the Y Club, “The Y Club met the needs of many young people for about 23 years, and a lot of romances and marriages resulted from those years.

The Inter Church youth camps were the highlight of the year for many young people.  Annual Easter camps held in Ballycastle Primary School for 4 nights were packed out with 120 young people attending.  The one-week summer camps were held in different schools in Scotland.  Special guest speakers were very important and were chosen to communicate with the young campers and many lives were changed.

The American Lunar 15 astronaut, Col. Al Worden, pictured at the official opening of the Y Club on 6th April 1977.


The Avenue, a Coffee House and Business Venue, located on the ground floor of the former Y Club building, is a social economy business which is a development of Stepping Stones NI, a charitable organisation which unlocks the potential of people with learning disabilities by providing progressive preparation for the world of work.  The Manager of the Avenue is Carolyn Kerr.  Carolyn is pictured with lecturers from the Lisburn Institute of Further and Higher Education who have dropped in for lunch at ‘The Avenue’.  L to R: (seated) Karyn Eldon - Head of Applied Science, Kathy Davison and Meg Courtney.

The Avenue, a Coffee House and Business Venue, located on the ground floor of the former Y Club building, is a social economy business which is a development of Stepping Stones NI, a charitable organisation which unlocks the potential of people with learning disabilities by providing progressive preparation for the world of work. The Manager of the Avenue is Carolyn Kerr. Carolyn is pictured with lecturers from the Lisburn Institute of Further and Higher Education who have dropped in for lunch at ‘The Avenue’. L to R: (seated) Karyn Eldon - Head of Applied Science, Kathy Davison and Meg Courtney.

Harold took cine-films at each Inter Church camp from 1966 to 1984, which have been transferred to a 1¼-hour video giving a clear understanding of their enormous popularity.  The video, narrated by Harold and Meta’s son Trevor, shows camp venues that include Donegal, Scotland, Ballycastle and Kilkeel. 

S.N.Y.F. - 1976 to 1996

A Sunday Night Youth Fellowship (S.N.Y.F) which was held in Railway Street Church’s Minor Hall, ran for 20 successful years, from 1976 to 1996.

Led by leaders from the Y Club, it was well attended each week. With a varied programme, which included lively music, singing, drama and Bible teaching, it was an extremely popular venue for the young people.  On many evenings the members visited Harold and Meta Patterson’s lovely home at 38 Limehill Road, near Lisburn for tea, coffee, biscuits, Bible study, praise and prayer.