The Victoria Club was a Jewish youth club that later developed into a community centre. The youth club was first established in Whitechapel, Stepney, in 1901, as a means of coping with Jewish delinquency in the East End of London. In 1956, the youth club moved to Stamford Hill, Hackney, following the migratory pattern of London Jewry. It was located in Egerton Road, Stamford Hill, beside the New Synagogue, on land leased from the United Synagogue. By 1976 the activities of the club were so diverse that it became the Victoria Community Centre until its closure in December 1991.
Hampstead Victoria was a branch of the club established in 1973, in conjunction with Hampstead Synagogue. It was based at the community centre in Denning on Park Road, Hampstead.
The Victoria Club was first known as the 'Victoria Club for Working Lads' or the 'Victoria Working Boys' Club' with premises located at Fordham Street, Whitechapel, Stepney. Circa 1914, it became known as the 'Victoria Club for Boys'. The Victoria Girls' Club was formed in 1955. In 1957, soon after the opening of new club premises at Egerton Road, Stamford Hill, Hackney, the 'Victoria Boys and Girls' Clubs' were amalgamated into the 'Victoria Boys and Girls Club', also known simply as 'Victoria'.
The early aim of the Victoria Club, as stated in a draft annual report of 1922-23, was 'to create an atmosphere for the less privileged members of our community which will help or raise them to an honourable status of citizenship during the most critical years of their life' (see ACC/2996/2).
By the 1950s the aim had become 'to teach Jewish boys and girls to use their leisure wisely, and to help them, through spiritual, cultural and physical training, to become good Jews and good citizens with a sense of loyalty to each other and of service to the local community'. The constitution of 1967 reaffirmed this aim and included emphasis on providing welfare services for the 'indigent old and infirm' (see ACC/2996/27). This emphasis was reflected in the activities of the Victoria (Hackney) Kosher Meals on Wheels Service, the youth club's social services section (see ACC/2996/109) and the establishment of a Senior Citizens Club.
There were 56 members in the Victoria Club at the outset. In the 1920s this had risen to 200. After the move into new premises in 1956 there were 400 members and a waiting list.
By 1959, the club had 750 boys and girls and, according to the chairman's report of that year ran '50 different activities per week' (see ACC/2996/15). The members were divided into Juniors and Seniors with a branch called the 'Old Vics', or Old Victorians, for members too old for the Senior section. From the 1960s the club received funding from the Inner London Education Authority towards the employment of Youth Workers.
The governing body of the club from 1958 to the 1970s was the Council, which met twice yearly, and the Executive Committee which met monthly. Daily administration of the youth club was carried out by the Warden and managers who reported to the Executive Committee. All sections or departments of the club had representation on the Council.
In the 1970s the needs of the Jewish community served by Victoria were changing. There was a continuing reduction in the youth club membership while work for the elderly and handicapped was increasing. These changes were reflected in an increasingly complex administrative structure from the 1970s.
The Victoria (Hackney) Kosher Meals on Wheels Service began in 1958, delivering hot, kosher, midday meals to any aged, housebound, Jewish person in the borough of Hackney. Meals were first purchased from the Yesodah Hatorah School and from 1961, kitchens in the Victoria Boys and Girls Club were used. At this time the service delivered about 150 meals a week.
By 1964 the Victoria Meals on Wheels Service was also catering for the boroughs of Stoke Newington, Islington and Tottenham, and for hospital patients requiring a kosher midday meal. This amounted to an average of 650 meals a week being delivered.
In 1983, over 60,000 dinners per year (c.1150 per week) were delivered to clients in Hackney, Haringey and Islington using seven vehicles a day. The Victoria Meals on Wheels also supplied luncheon service for the Senior Citizens Club which met daily at this time.
The Victoria (Hackney) Kosher Meals on Wheels Service operated as a department within the Victoria Club and submitted reports to the Executive Committee. In 1991 the service was transferred to the boroughs.