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The Clapham SocietyWe meet at Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 0QW. The bar opens at 7 pm and the talk starts promptly at 8 pm. Our guests normally speak for about 45 minutes, followed by questions and discussion for about 15 minutes. Meetings are free and open to non-members, who are invited to make a donation (we do not meet in July, August or December).

Owing to the continued uncertainty about the pandemic, we shall be meeting for the first few months of 2021 at Omnibus Theatre (all going well) and also on Zoom.

We try to reschedule cancelled talks at a later date and regret any inconvenience.
Please check this page for updated details in the list of meetings below.

Entry is by pre-booking only.
Email Alyson to reserve a place at Omnibus Theatre,
or Christine to attend on Zoom. Further details will be sent out a few days before the event; please book in the appropriate month.

Our meetings for 2021 appear below:

We have a page dedicated to walks to join from April to September each year.
The walks organised this year are shown on the Walks page.


Studio Voltair Monday 18 January TALK CANCELLED
After 25 years of being at the heart of Clapham’s community, leading arts organisation Studio Voltaire will embark on a £2.4 million capital refurbishment project. Laura Harford will offer insight into the process, including the design plans by architects Matheson Whiteley and the history of the site. The public space at Studio Voltaire will be increased by 233% with a new community space, garden and café; the project will also, importantly, provide more affordable studios to ensure Clapham’s thriving artistic community is maintained.

We regret that this talk has been cancelled but we hope to reschedule it at a later date.


Bill Linsky

Monday 15 February
Bill Linskey, Chairman of the Brixton Society, will tell us about the famous markets area of Brixton, where there are so many ‘firsts’, not least one of the first shopping streets in Britain to be lit by electricity. But the story of the markets is more significant than that. Shops reflect the changing needs and tastes of their customers, and the history of shopping in Brixton mirrors the history of the whole area.

This meeting will be on Zoom only as Omnibus Theatre will not yet be open


Diva HR St. Paul's opera Monday 15 March TALK CANCELLED
St Paul’s Opera – how did that happen? In the short, dark days of January 2013, a plot was hatched to put on an opera at St Paul’s Church, Rectory Grove. The mad minds involved (for you’d need to be mad even to consider staging an opera from scratch) were the then vicar, Deborah Matthews; parishioner Patricia Ninian; and Patricia’s singing teacher, international soprano Jennifer McGregor. Puccini’s one-act opera Gianni Schicchi was chosen and the performance, just one night, was a sell-out; the die was cast. For this talk, Patricia Ninian will explain how St Paul’s Opera has grown. It now stages an ambitious opera over three nights every summer (2020 being the obvious exception), gala concerts and an annual masterclass given by tenor David Butt Philip.

This meeting has had to be cancelled and will be rescheduled as early as possible in 2022 when the future of live music performance should be more certain than at present.

It is replaced by the following

Monday 15 March
Ready, steady, census! With the decennial census almost upon us David Gwyther, Census Engagement Manager for North Lambeth, will speak about its importance and the practicalities of taking part. Households across Lambeth will soon be asked to take part in the nationwide survey of housing and the population. Information from the ‘digital-first’ census will help decide how local services are planned and funded. For us this could affect local doctors’ surgeries, housing or new bus routes. There is an article in the February newsletter but this meeting is your chance to find out more, so if you have any questions David will be on our Zoom call to help.


The House on the Hill Monday 19 April
The House on the Hill. Journalist and author Christopher Impey will tell the story of HMP Brixton, London’s oldest prison, which was 200 years old in 2019 and is told in his eponymous book. It began as the Surrey House of Correction, infamously popularising the brutal treadmill. Later, it became the first convict prison for women and, during the 20th century, the remand prison for London. By the millennium, inspectors rated it as the worst prison in the country, but in recent years it has been transformed and now boasts enterprising rehabilitation schemes such as The Clink restaurant and Clink@Home, a food delivery service very busy during lockdown.


Discovering Battersea’s Open Spaces by Clare Graham Monday 17 May
Discovering Battersea’s Open Spaces: a walking guide. Dr Clare Graham has lived in Battersea since 1983. She has a PhD in architectural history and formerly worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and as a heritage consultant. She has been a trustee of the Battersea Society since 2018 and is currently Chair of its Open Spaces Committee. Last year during lockdown she put together Society’s first publication, the eponymous title of her talk. In it she will take us through the editorial process of producing and promoting her book, as well as showing us some highlights of the walks offer.

Yehuda and Eilat Negev, who were going to speak in May about their book Flaming Dene, have requested to give their talk in person; they have been rescheduled for May 2022.


Lucilla Poston Monday 21 June Postponed. New date to be advised
The life course of health – we can’t start soon enough. This talk by Professor Lucilla Poston, CBE, Head of the Department of Women and Children’s Health at King’s College London (KCL), will update us on pregnancy research at King’s College London – Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust. Illustrating the ‘Developmental Origins of Health and Disease’ hypothesis with examples from scientific literature, it will show how this is influencing public health advice about parenthood and the management of common complications of pregnancy. Professor Poston holds the Tommy’s Charity Chair of Maternal and Fetal Health. Her research team aims to improve the health of women and their children in the UK and, globally, by better understanding the processes which lead to complications in pregnancy, particularly premature birth, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.


Clock House, Clapham Common South Side
Clock House, Clapham Common South Side

Monday 20 September
The man who made an Edwardian suburb. In the 1880s and ’90s the large mansions around the Common were being demolished and new roads laid out. In his talk, local resident Mike Tuffrey will recount how the neighbourhood around Abbeville Road, with a church, school, police station and shops, came to be built by 1910. He will reveal the decisive role played in the development by an elusive land agent – a linen draper from Tottenham and sometime felon, later a cinema proprietor – and discuss what this tells us about how Clapham continues to change.


Monday 18 October
Annual General Meeting.
The formal business of the meeting will be followed by a discussion on the results of our survey earlier this year, led by Andrew Summers, Convenor of the Common and Open Spaces Sub-committee, and other matters arising.


Caroline Ganley Monday 15 November
Dr Sue Demont, author of Battersea’s First Lady – The Life and Times of Caroline Ganley MP, will introduce us to this remarkable but overlooked public servant who lived at Thirsk Road off Clapham Common, from 1910 until her death in 1966. Ganley’s work spanned this entire period and comprised an astonishing range of roles at local, national and international level. These included serving as a borough and county councillor, sitting as MP for Battersea South from 1945-51, and becoming one of the earliest women magistrates and the first female President of the London Co-operative Society.


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,

The walks organised this year are shown on the Walks page.