The Clapham Society


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Our meetings will recommence in January 2019 at Omnibus, 1 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 0QW. The bar will be open as in the past from 7 pm, our guest will speak at 8 pm for about 45 minutes, with around 15 minutes for questions and the bar will remain open until late. The full programme for the year is shown below. We hope you will put the dates in your diary to ensure that you do not miss the meetings.

Tomb of Robert Hudson Monday 21 January
Bob Flanagan, Chairman of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, will discuss the history of the cemetery and give details of some of the many remarkable Clapham residents who chose to be buried there. These include the clown Tom Barry, who sailed down the Thames in a tub pulled by geese in 1844, Thomas Cubitt, the developer of Clapham Park, the engineer Sir William Cubitt FRS, the potter John Doulton, the naturalist Robert Hudson FRS, and the Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Photo: Tomb of Robert Hudson, FRS (1801-1883) Naturalist resident Clapham Common

John O'Farell book Monday 18 February
An evening with John O’Farrell. Local resident, Clapham Society member, renowned author and comedy scriptwriter. He will talk about his experiences as a writer from Spitting Image to Broadway musicals via numerous books including the recent Things Can Only Get Worse. In between, he found time to stand for Parliament against Theresa May and campaign for a new local school where he was Chair of Governors for eight years.

Brixton Library and Gardens Monday 18 March
Bill Linskey Chair of the Brixton Society will tell the story of the local sugar magnate and philanthropist, Henry Tate. Perhaps best known for his donation of paintings which formed the basis of the Gallery of British Art, later known as Tate Gallery and now Tate Britain, Henry Tate also donated three libraries in Lambeth including the striking Brixton Library in Windrush Square. Bill’s recent book about Henry Tate and the Brixton Library will be available at the meeting.

Picture: Brixton Library and Gardens

Common Walks
Dr Iain Boulton of Lambeth Parks and Open Spaces has now confirmed this year's plans for his popular walks on Clapham Common.
Details and dates (Starting in April) are listed at the end of this page.

Battersea Arts Centre, Grand Hall Monday 15 April
Three years after it was destroyed by a devastating fire, Battersea Arts Centre's Grand Hall has reopened following a multi-million pound refurbishment and restoration by architects Haworth Tompkins. The first production was Missing the show that was running at the time of the fire. Maddie Wilson, formerly assistant to the Director of Battersea Arts Centre, now a producer and coordinator of their new co-working space, the Scratch Hub, will talk about the development of this atmospheric and iconic building.

Photo: Battersea Arts Centre, Grand Hall

May Walk

Thursday 16 May
From Matrimony Place to The Surprise. Depart 6.30 pm from St Paul’s Church, Rectory Grove, SW4 0DR, led by Anne Wilson (

Panorama of the Thames

Monday 20 May
John Inglis and Jill Sanders will talk about the 'Panorama of the Thames Project'. It was during the course of filming the River Thames from Tower Bridge to Hampton, to produce the contemporary panoramic record of the river, that they uncovered a 60ft panorama from 1829, Richmond to Westminster. Both show continuous views of both banks of the river, now presented on a unique website, enabling comparisons across almost 200 years of social and architectural change.
This presentation is an introduction to a fascinating project, with additional short films illustrating special features.’
Their book A Riverside View of Georgian London (price 25) will be on sale after the presentation? For more details go to:

June Walk

Monday 3 June
Growth of a Victorian Suburb. Depart 6.30 pm from Clapham South Underground Station, led by Timothy Walker (

The River Wandle Monday 17 June
Brewing along the Wandle Valley. Alison Cousins is a volunteer at the Wandle Industrial Museum based in Mitcham, Surrey. She has a keen interest in our local heritage and will talk about brewing along the Wandle Valley. While Young's is the best known name associated with brewing in south London, there were many other brewers along the Wandle and now there is a local revival taking place.

Illustration: The River Wandle

Walks July to September

Tuesday 9 July
Around Central Clapham. Depart 6.30 pm from Clapham Common Underground Station, led by Alyson Wilson.

Sunday 15 September
Clapham High Street and Environs. Depart 2.30 pm from Clapham North Underground Station, led by Anne Wilson.

Wednesday 25 September
Clapham in World War II. Depart 2.30 pm from Clapham Common Underground Station, led by Tom Jansz.

Monday 16 September
The Heathwall: South London's least-known stream. There has been a growing interest over the last ten years in the underground rivers of London. In this talk, writer and archivist, Jon Newman uncovers the history and course of what is arguably the least-understood of them, the Heathwall. For centuries it has defined the parish and borough boundaries between Battersea, Clapham, Lambeth and Wandsworth while its tributaries, the Holburne and the Heathwall Brook both flow through Clapham. Consigned underground by Bazalgette in 1865 as part of his London Main Drainage scheme, it has largely been forgotten. Jon has just published a book on the river's history and this will be on sale.

Monday 14 October
Annual General Meeting. Followed by...

Growing Up in Wartime Battersea. What was it like to be a child in London during World War II? This talk, narrated by Carol Rahn, shares highlights of filmed interviews with men and women recounting their childhood experiences during the war. It is a fascinating story of the terror - and temptations - of bombing, disrupted schooling and youthful independence that would be unthinkable today. Even for those familiar with the history of the war years, these first-hand accounts are magnetic.

Photo: V2 Bomb in Usk Road, Battersea

Clapham Common Station 1934 Monday 18 November
One of our most popular speakers in the past, Edmund Bird, returns to tell us about the architectural history of the London Underground. Edmund has been the Senior Heritage Advisor to Transport for London since 2006 working on projects to refurbish and adapt London Underground and Overground historic stations and Thames bridges together with highway schemes in conservation areas. Before that he was Head of Conservation & Urban Design at Lambeth and Camden boroughs. He has also written five books on the architectural history of Lambeth between 1837 and 2000, a subject he has given talks on to the Clapham Society in previous years.

Photo: Clapham Common Station in 1934.
Copyright TfL from the London Transport Museum collection

There is no meeting in December.

We hope that you will find this an interesting and varied programme with something to suit everyone.
If you have any suggestions for future meetings do please pass them on to the Events Organiser, Christine Armstrong, telephone 020 7720 7449 or

Common Walks led by Dr Iain Boulton

Sunday 14 April.
Clapham Common Bugs and Beasties Hunt. A hands-on opportunity to find out what interesting invertebrates, bugs and other creepy crawlies are found on Clapham Common; one for all ages and interests. A search through the Common’s ponds, grasslands and other wildlife habitats, turning over a few stones and logs, to see what colourful things the Common is hiding from us – and learn about some of the interesting things these animals do or how they affect us! Meet at the Wildlife Pond beside Eagle Pond, Windmill Drive at 2 pm. Duration about two hours – but come and leave as you please. All equipment provided.

Sunday 21 July
The Great Plant Hunt. Come and find out what interesting wild plants have turned up on Clapham Common this year, from new and mightier trees through to herbs and wildflowers, and why might this be happening? Is it the weather or something more interesting? A short circular walk to see how we identify plants and learn about some of their mysterious ways of survival. Meet at the Bandstand at 2 pm. Duration about 90 minutes, but come and leave as you please.

Friday 27 September
Autumn Bat Walk. Always popular, we’ll use bat detectors and our own eyes to look for, listen to and be amazed at these fascinating creatures, and who knows, we might find some new and interesting species as well as the more common ones! Wrap up warm and comfortable for a journey into the world of our night time companions. Meet at 7 pm at the Bandstand; duration approximately 60 minutes.

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