If you are planning to move to Clapham, there are quite a few things that you can take a look at. You might not know this, but Clapham has a very diverse history. There are plenty of exciting and interesting facts about the local area that will be worth knowing when you move.
Because we are big history buffs, we decided to look at some of the interesting facts from the long history of Clapham right the way through to a few recent ones. Hopefully, something is interesting here that you didn’t previously know about the area, and you’ll walk away with a renewed appreciation for everything Clapham offers.
Quick Fact About Clapham
- Clapham is a neighbourhood located in the London Borough of Lambeth.
- The crime rate in Clapham is considered to be lower than the average for London as a whole.
- Clapham is home to several reputable schools, including Clapham Manor Primary School, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and Saint Francis Xavier College, a Catholic secondary school rated “good”.
- Clapham has several supermarkets and grocery stores, including a Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and a Morrisons.
- Clapham is well-connected to the rest of London by public transportation. Several bus routes and two London Underground stations (Clapham North and Clapham Common) provide access to the Northern line.
- Clapham is home to several hospitals, including the Clapham Community Base NHS walk-in centre, St John’s Therapy Centre, and Clapham Leisure Centre Health Suite.
Clapham Got Big Thanks to an Accident
As a town, Clapham is actually over 1000 years old. You might not know this, but Clapham began life as an Anglo-Saxon village that was called Cloppham.
The old name doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in the same way that the new one does, but it was a reference to the fact that this was a village by a hill. Most people agree that the modern name is a little bit easier to work with!
However, Clapham didn’t get popular until the 1600s, when the great fire of London drove many people out of the city. They came down south, looking for a new home, and many settled in Clapham. The plague contributed to Clapham a little bit as well, as it was another reason that people left London in search of a new home.
Clapham Contributed to Ending the Slave Trade
You might be surprised to know that Clapham played a core part in abolishing the slave trade. A large group of people at a church near Clapham Common tube station led a campaign back in the early 1800s that led to the slave trade act being created in 1807, with the final abolition of slavery in the UK, taking place in 1833.
It’s definitely not the most well-known fact, but it’s nice to know that Clapham is responsible for something as profound as this. After all, very few places in the world can claim to have helped to end the slave trade.
Clapham Was Heavily Involved in WWII
The Second World War was a big event that ultimately created a lot of changes to the country. You might be surprised that there are still entrances to three different community air raid shelters in the Clapham area.
These shelters were first dug during the Second World War, and eight were located in London. They were dug quite deep underground and equipped with everything somebody would need to survive there for quite a while. However, you can’t get into them nowadays because they are all owned privately and predominantly used for storage purposes.
The Clapham Sect
If you recall, we’ve talked about a group working in the local church in Clapham that helped to abolish the slave trade. However, what you might not know is that this group is actually a famous historical part of Clapham called the Clapham Sect.
While they were openly mocked and ridiculed across many different groups in the area, their work was vital and essential enough to be a separate fact on the list.
Clapham Has Hosted Famous Folks
Clapham might be a small part of the London area, but don’t be fooled. It’s actually played host to some important characters throughout history. For example, back in the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin stayed in the area. For some reason, he decided to pour oil on a pond was a good use of his time, but he did also go on to be a pioneering scientific figure, so!
Suburbanisation is Recent
Once the primary railways were created, Clapham became a suburb primarily for people commuting into London. This meant it took a lot of damage during the Second World War, evidenced by the many shelters still in the area.
For this reason, Clapham was introduced to a regeneration program in the 1980s. It became gentrified and found a new set of occupants in the middle class who moved south from Knightsbridge and Chelsea. Nowadays, Clapham is one of the more prestigious areas of London, thanks to this influx of middle-class citizens.
Clapham Used to be the Height of Luxury
The great thing about Clapham is that there was different type of person living in the area even in the last 300 years, depending on where you went and who you were. Nowadays, Clapham is home to middle-class families. Still, before that, it was primarily the commuters of society, but before the Second World War, it was actually home to the wealthy.
Many of the wealthy merchants from London put down roots in the area, building grand homes and developing the area. Of course, the final metaphorical bow to wrap Clapham’s history up is the fact many of these folks went on to be the Clapham Sect!
So, it’s clear that Clapham has an interesting history. The area is home to many different parts of history, some being marked by the pain of the Second World War but others being more positive, like championing the rights of enslaved people. Nowadays, Clapham is a very mixed bag, with wealthy people living there but also everyday working-class citizens.
However, nobody can deny that the area is quite interesting and has a lot of history. Clapham is one of those places where if you look around, you will see that history is everywhere, and that really permeates the entire culture. Living somewhere like this is very interesting because it opens up many opportunities to study local and global history.
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