Place to Remember – North Camberwell Radical Club
Place to Remember was Art in the Park’s heritage project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund exploring the history of four local buildings in Walworth and Camberwell.
Here are some of the histories and images collected about the North Camberwell Radical Club.
Jaqueline Shelton 2015
Jean Newman 2015
Pauline Ranson Cook 2015
Workshops and Artwork with 4 Corners and Waterside Care Home
About The North Camberwell Radical Club
Who were the Radicals?
The Radicals were a strand of English political thought, traceable back through the Chartists, and the French and American Revolutions, to the Diggers and Levellers of the 17th Century. Radicalism was a broad church and its emphases changed over time, but its primary concerns were: Universal Suffrage; Parliamentary reform; land reform; work and labour relations: the emancipation of enslaved peoples and later, resolution of the Irish Question and extension of the vote to women.
The North Camberwell Radical Club performed two functions. Firstly, it was a forum for political debate. Secondly, it was a social club for its members. The club band headed the 1890 mass May Day procession from Camberwell Green to Hyde Park under the banner ‘8 Hours’ work, 8 Hours Pay, 8 Hours rest for 8 bob a day’. In 1893, the Club took use of a building known as Albany Hall at 45 Albany Road. The building had previously been used by Reynolds and Bussell, teachers of dancing, and the large hall was useful for political and social meetings. Famous orators such as George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill spoke here, and there were often hotly disputed political debates on topics such as women’s suffrage and the opposition to the Boer War. The social side of the Club must also be remembered. As this was a members-only club, laws relating to the sale of alcohol were much less strict, another reason for the Club’s popularity. In addition to the Club’s hall as there was always a bar.
The club made news in 1908 due to the death ‘accelerated by alcoholic excess’ of a Mr Drummond, after he had a fall at the Club. The then president of the Club, Dr Macnamara, MP was the Liberal MP for North Camberwell and Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. This incident was brought up in Parliament, no doubt to embarrass the Liberal Party at the time.
From the turn of the century, the rise of modern political parties with formal membership, meant that the political aspect of the club gradually took second place to its social life. The club gradually became a Working Men’s Club in all but name, although a political link was retained well into the 1920s as the President being the Labour MP for North Camberwell, Charles Ammon. The Club remained a social club until its demolition in the 1970s, with a bar, billiards and theatre. The site of the Club is now part of Burgess Park.
Nick Barber, London Historian
Fabian Socialism and English Politics 1884-1919 AM McBriar 1962
An Imperial War and the British Working Class Richard Price 1972
Post Office Directories 1890-99
County of London Plan Patrick Abercrombie 1943
Southwark Local History Archive and Archive
North Camberwell Radical Club, Albany Road 1978. With the kind permission of Southwark Local History Library and Archive
OS Map 1951 Showing North Canmberwell Radical Club and Institute detail
OS Map 1951 Showing Radical Club and Institute
Political Pamphlet showing Dr Macnamara, Liberal MP for North Camberwell, one of the presidents of the club. With the kind permission of the Southwark Local History Library and Archive
From Martyrs To Modernism Place To Remember Heritage Walk and Talk
Heritage Talk at the site of the North Camberwell Radical Club, Burgess Park 2016
Heritage Talk by the site of the North Camberwell Radical Club, Burgess Park 2016
Heritage Talk near the site of the North Camberwell Radical Club, Burgess Park 2016