Hidden in plain sight next to Somerset House, the India Club has been a part of London life for nearly 70 years, but is now threatened with redevelopment.
The current manager of the Club, Phiroza Marker, explains why it should be saved.
Hidden up a flight of stairs on the Strand, it would be easy to overlook the India Club. However, recent redevelopment plans to turn the building into a modern hotel have brought the Club’s crucial history into the limelight.
There are few things in the UK which capture the complexity of Britain’s colonial past as well as the India Club. It was established at a significant moment in British/Indian relations by the India League, which was described by Prime Minister Nehru in the 1930s as “the only really ‘political’ organization representing Indians in the UK.”
Following India’s independence, the League resolved that its future role would be to focus on UK-Indian relations. As such, in 1951 it formed the India Club as a symbol of Indo-British friendship under the leadership of Krishna Menon, India’s first High Commissioner to the UK, and with founding members including Prime Minister Nehru and Lady Edwina Mountbatten.