Ernest Lloyd played an integral part in the development of the YMCA War Camps in and around Grimsby and Cleethorpes during the First World War.
One of seven children, Lloyd was born in Liverpool on 5 December 1888 and spent his early years at Brownlow Hill in the heart of the city.
Lloyd’s first appearance in the Grimsby and District YMCA minute books is in 1914. Clearly a man of some ambition, records show he was invited to interview for the position of General Secretary for the Grimsby and Cleethorpes YMCA – this was the local organisation’s first paid position – based at 39 Heneage Road. Lloyd was offered the post with a salary of £130 per annum; however, after negotiation with the President of the National Association, he secured an extra twenty pounds, taking up his new position on 8 September 1914.
Lloyd quickly set about co-ordinating the Grimsby and Cleethorpes YMCA War Effort. By 1915, as a result of his work setting up camps, the National Association had agreed to pay half his salary. Lloyd had set up Weelsby Camp and a ‘Stranded Soldier and Sailor Camp’ in Orwell Street on the site of the present day YMCA Humber Foyer Project. During this period he became a frequent correspondent with the National Association, usually requesting funds for new huts across Lincolnshire.
In 1916, Lloyd requested an exemption from military service and was granted a six month grace period due to his essential war work on behalf of the YMCA. The National Association agreed to pay his full salary in recognition of his work across Lincolnshire, but it was made clear that he would be expected to sign up at the end of the six months. The minutes of 27 February 1917 report that Lloyd would receive no further exemption from enlistment – this suggests he had, indeed, made a further request. He was to sign up immediately after a short holiday.
There are no war records for Ernest Lloyd; neither are there records of him working anywhere else in the country for the YMCA until he is mentioned in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes minute books in 1919. The minute suggests a letter is written to Mr Lloyd requesting his advice and possible attendance at a meeting. There was no response. However, it seems that Lloyd survived the war and was, in some way, still connected within the YMCA movement.
Details about his movements are incomplete and little is known about him until January 1926 when he features in a newspaper article, named as the Divisional Secretary for South Western and South Midland Division of the YMCA. In August of the following year, Devon and Cornwall newspapers report Lloyd heading out to Shanghai to set up YMCA for troops stationed there.
The much-travelled Mr Lloyd re-appeared in an article in the Western Daily Press in 1932, which explained that the former divisional secretary, Ernest Lloyd, would be taking over the South West area. On 29 July he was photographed attending a Garden Party with members of the YMCA War Committee.
Lloyd remained in the West Country in various roles, some of which involved working with the Women’s Auxiliary, until 1936. He returned to the north of England, and was appointed to the post of General Secretary of Leeds YMCA in 1937, a post he held until 1941. Several newspaper articles about his time in Leeds show Lloyd actively seeking new opportunities, for example, developing a lecture series in partnership with the University of Leeds for men working in the new Anti-Aircraft Unit. In November 1939, in an echo of the work he first undertook in Grimsby in 1914, he set up a Stranded Soldiers and Sailors canteen and hostel at Leeds railway station. A newspaper article in December 1941 noted that Lloyd had received a thank you letter from a soldier who had stayed at the YMCA Leeds Train Station Hostel, the letter included a pound note. The articles published in the local press are below.
After a short period of time in London, Lloyd returned to the West Country, taking up the post of divisional secretary in Devon and Cornwall in 1943, where he remained until 1947
and his last-known posting which saw him leaving Plymouth YMCA ‘to take up position in Eastern Counties YMCA – Headquarters Ipswich’. It is likely this was Lloyd’s final post – he would have been 59 years old – and may well have settled, after a long and varied career of service, into a quiet retirement.