St. Andrew’s was founded in Market Street, Soho in November 1866 as The St. Andrew’s Home and Club for Working Boys. Originally we provided a residential home for apprentice boys who had come to London to work. The boys paid their wages into the club; in return they received a place to sleep, meals, a weekly allowance and an evening club for chess, draughts and bagatelle and other activities that still flourish in modern youth clubs.
In 1869 the club moved to larger premises in Dean Street, Soho.
In 1885 following further expansion the club moved to a purpose-built building on a freehold site in Great Peter Street, Westminster. Earlier, the Dean of Westminster had appealed for funds to buy an insalubrious pub to convert for club use. Mrs. Nathaniel Montefiore answered his call, and the Earl of Selborne laid the foundation stone of our building. Today, successors of the Dean and the Earl are among our Vice Presidents.
On 11 November 1940 our building was destroyed in the blitz.
During the war interest in the club was kept alive by the issue of a regular newsletter sent out to old boys. After the war an association sprung up to re-build the club, no longer residential, on the original site in Great Peter Street.
In 1958 we moved into the new building. With a gymnasium, changing rooms, offices, snooker room, games room, club rooms and staff accommodation, the building was the blueprint for future youth clubs.
By the early 1980s, redevelopment became attractive. Alec Wizard, an old member of the club and now President, arranged to sell the site. With the proceeds, a nearby site was acquired and new, purpose-built club premises were constructed. While the new club was being prepared, Westminster City Council housed the club locally in a converted old washhouse and swimming baths.
In September 1984 current premises, Alec Wizard House, Old Pye Street, SW1, were opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. Our building includes a magnificent gymnasium, reception area club room, offices, garage, dark room, coffee bar, small club rooms, theatre, and staff flat.
In 1984, we were finally able to provide equally for our girl members, in the form of full changing facilities. Once again St. Andrew’s was setting the standard for the services used by young people.
Today St. Andrew’s continues to provide exciting and meaningful programmes for young people, as it has done across three different centuries, meeting the demands of the day with innovation and invention, while holding on to proven practices that have worked for more than 140 years.
After 25 years’ service, the club building is in need of refurbishment. As a result, we have launched a building fund appeal to provide a fitting and a stimulating environment for St Andrew’s continued work on behalf of the young people of Westminster in the 21st century.