Clapham is one of the most historic parts of London, yet most people know nothing about Clapham’s history. Believe it or not, if you live in Clapham proper, one of the area’s secrets is beneath your feet: literally miles of air raid shelters, over 30 meters down, below the underground.
You’ll recognise the entrances as those round buildings you’ve probably either wondered what their purpose is, or assumed were part of the tube. Wrongo. They are entrances to underground mini-cities that, when open, would have safely held 8,000 people. That’s even bigger and deeper than Infernos – but probably still better lit.
The London Transport Museum had a major breakthrough recently, receiving permission to open one of Clapham’s many Deep-level Shelters. Built during World War II as air raid shelters against the blitz. We were lucky enough to book tickets for the opening week. Without wanting to give away ‘too’ much, below is a small selection of photos.
It sold out pretty quickly but it is well worth the wait and £30 admission fee – worth every penny. It was a truly memorable experience with outstanding guides. And I hope they get to keep them open so thousands more people can experience Clapham below ground… er, belower ground than the underground and WC that is.
Let’s face it Clappers, we’ve always been spoilt for choice in the culinary department. However, Clapham seems to have gone into overdrive in 2014 with the introduction of tonnes of cutting edge, contemporary places to eat.
Love Clapham loves a good nosh with a slosh of bubbles and here’s our pick of the best in a rough order.
a) New Clapham restaurants we’ve been to and recommend
- Zumbura – fresh, zingy tastes with commendable friendly outstanding service.
- The Dairy – this new entry to the Clapham food scene has exceptional food and a lovely environment. When we went, we had the taster menu and it was exceptional. At the higher end of the cost scale but worth every penny.
- Ferm’s £5 pizza – best pizza in town and only a fiver. We love it for its relaxed easy going atmosphere. Hopefully it won’t get the awful queue that its breakfast guise (Breads Etcetera) gets, because we never go for brekkie there because of that.
- WC – knowledgeable staff with excellent wine and delicious charcuterie. Very stylish and cool location too. Highly recommended.
- Chicago Rib Shack – pricier than you’d probably expect from a rib shack (it really could do with about £2 slashed from everything). However, the ribs are simply incredible. And the service is fun and friendly, much better than other service at other rib shacks who shall remain nameless. We love this place… although the bouncer feels a little unnecessary, this is gentrified Clapham afterall 😉
- Brickwood Coffee – for a coffee shop it is a bit pricey, the reason for that though is the excellent quality of the coffee AND the amazing toasted ciabattas that they sell, super tasty.
- Abbeville Kitchen – extremely good if also extremely expensive traditional fare done very, very well. You won’t feel short changed.
- No. 32 Old Town – this place was packed from the offset and the two times we’ve been in we’ve had an outstanding meal. However the service has always been a little bit frantic and odd. We’re putting this down to “finding their feet” for the time being though.
- Byron Burger – you know what they sell, it’s just good they now sell it in Clapham!
- Mama Lan – teeny tiny with an even smaller menu but it’s deelish! Our one massive gripe is that they still don’t take cards almost a year on… We’ve stopped going because of that because we never have cash on us!
- The Dessert Deli – obviously not a cafe but it still sells food! The owner, Laura Amos, makes the best cakes in South London, don’t miss them. Located in Clapham Junction station with a new shop.
- Aux Marveilleux de Fred – you can’t sit in this place on Northcote Road either but their cakes are incredible, whatever those little mound things are! 😀
b) Oldies and still Goldies – some of these are still trumping the newbies
- The Pepper Tree – one of the tastiest, best priced places in Clapham with a stunning location overlooking Clapham Common. Friendlier service than most of the new places. And it’s just had a totally awesome, stylish make over!
- Fantasia – in amongst all of the posh overpriced nonsense, Fantasia remains down to earth, affordable and high quality. No restaurant is as rounded and perfectly formed. Of course, we only go for the breakfast / brunch / late lunchy breakfast. We need more casual places like this that don’t break the bank. Also has MUCH better service than most new breakfast places.
- Maharani – you’d be mistaken (wrongly mistaken) if you judge this place by its cover. The building may look incredibly dated but the food and service is simply perfect. One of the best indian restaurants we’ve ever been to and it’s right here on our high street. Please do use this place, you won’t regret it.
- Trinity – expensive but worth it. If you want to impress or for culinary razzmatazz, go here.
- Gastro – informal, not the standard of Trinity or the other more expensive places but the price here reflects that. Probably the most relaxing night out in Claps.
- Northcote and Stonhouse – part of the same chain and both equally amazing, if already a victim of their own success by being too popular so hard to get a table at the weekend without booking earlier in the week. The waiting staff always feel rushed off their feet, although friendly. You can’t deny the amazing quality of their food and drinks (especially the steaks!)
- Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) – it’s been around for a while and has recently upped its game a bit to compete with the new burger kids on the block. We think this place is giving Byron a run for its money actually, and we’ve been opting to go to this place instead recently because it’s a tad less busy.
Other new places we haven’t been to yet include the soon to open The Manor on Clapham Manor Street. Also, The Craft Beer Co on Clapham Manor Street is supposed to have great burgers – we’ve been for their great ales but not food yet. Olives and Meze looks interesting too.
Have we missed something or do you disagree with us? Please tell us in our new Clapham Eating Out forum.
Own a restaurant that’s not listed here? Please don’t take it personally. We can’t like everything! If you’re new, we just haven’t been yet and if you’ve been around for a while, we probably just think the cost or service is a bit skew whiff right now and we intentionally don’t bad press places. Feel free to tell us about your Clapham gaff on the forum and we’ll pop on down for another take ASAP
Residents of Lambeth’s Co-operative Housing scheme of the 70s and 80s are facing eviction. But those residents disagree with Lambeth Council’s decision. Where do you stand? Discuss on our forum >>
One of the most affluent areas of London, yet Clapham High Street has had empty retail units for months in prime locations – why? Discuss >>
Lambeth Council has confirmed that Live Nation will have 2 – 3 days of mega concerts (27, 28 and 29th June) on Clapham Common this summer. Bringing the likelihood of performances from people like Paul McCartney and Madonna to our leafy streets.
These concerts will also see crowds up to 45,000 strong attend each concert (well, if the concert is good…). Typically, until now Clapham’s concerts have had half that number of people. The press release from Lambeth states that these concerts are for a “more mature” crowd and won’t be dance focused. That made us LOL but make of it what you will.
Up to now, opinion has been divided with members of Love Clapham saying it’s both a good thing, “I for one think this is fantastic news… A festival here or there really brings a fantastic vibe to Clapham.” (Tim) and a bad thing for the community and area “Personally I’m against it. Natural spaces in the centre of town are very rare and should be protected. The common’s already way too manicured – they should let the grass grow – see if they can’t wild-meadow more of it. I hate seeing private commercial projects on the Common.” (Matt).
This follows a round of investigations about noise levels from such a concert and some consultation with local community groups in January. Live Nation will actually occupy the site for over two weeks for setting up and dismantling.
One thing’s for sure, it will get the whole country talking about Clapham for a whole new reason, perhaps even making our Claps a known venue for musical talent. Recently, we’ve already seen the launch of Music Monday’s at the new Clapham Omnibus theatre on Clapham Common. Plus of course, who can forget the local Pop Choir
Please do share your thoughts on this in our new thread on the forum – we’d love to hear what you think!
Live Nation’s large live concerts look to be moving from Hyde Park to Clapham Common from summer 2014.
We were first alerted over the weekend on our Twitter account by a fellow Clapper and this morning the report looks to be confirmed by a press release from our local community group, the Friends of Clapham Common.
Friends of Clapham Common are very clear on their position: “We are objecting in the strongest possible terms to Lambeth Council’s proposal to permit an events company to put on large-scale events on Clapham Common that could see 45,000 people a day descending on the area.”
Their Chairman, Melanie Oxley, went on to say “The commercialisation of Clapham Common has reached new heights. Lambeth Council risks converting our heritage landscape into an enterprise platform. Despite clear objections from ourselves and others, Lambeth is welcoming all kinds of unsuitable events.”
How do you feel? Will the cultural benefits of concerts from major music artists like Lady Gaga and Coldplay improve our area? Or will yet another influx of revellers destroy what makes Clapham Common so special already?
After hearing about the extension of the cycle hire ‘Boris Bikes’ into South West London, including parts of Battersea and Clapham (along Wandsworth Road down to Clapham Junction) we got in touch with TFL to ask when they’d come other areas of Clapham. In particular, along the heavily congested Northern Line route from Clapham North, through Balham down to Tooting.
TFL confirmed that there “are no plans to expand further at this time”, and that they definitely aren’t coming to this area for the time being (not this year, and with no plans at all yet, we’d guess that currently, unlikely for 2014 either). This due to a number of factors that included:
- Maintenance of docking stations 500m apart
- Likely usage – particularly multi-direction usage
- Available suitable land for docking stations
- Local demand
- Council support
However, TFL report that the Northern Line is the single most congested line, particularly at the stations Clapham North, Clapham Common, Clapham South, Balham and Tooting Bec. We’ve just had the cycle super highway added along this route to encourage cyclists (which is working), and we’re being encouraged by TFL to change our commute at these points, including the recommendation of cycling.
Therefore Clappers, like Sherlock Holmes I conclude that it is the most sensible place in probably the whole of London for this bike scheme to come!
What do you think? Do you want them? Will people use them? Is it worth us starting a petition to show local support and mapping out possible docking station location?
Some of you may have noticed Boris Bike (aka Barclay’s bikes) docking stations cropping up along the Wandsworth Road and Clapham Junction parts of the Clapham area. So far there are no signs actually within Clapham town or the High Street, however.
This is part of the South West expansion, which you can read about on the TFL website. The expansion (see map below) mostly covers Hammersmith, Fulham and Wandsworth, but scrapes into the Clapham area. We’re unclear yet whether the bikes will come into Clapham town and around the common, or if Wandsworth Road is the limit.
It seems a shame that TFL / Barclays/ Boris etc haven’t decided to urgently rush the bike scheme along the extremely heavily overcrowded Northern Line to relieve the pressure. Fingers crossed.
We’ll let you know more as we know it. Bike on Clappers!
You may have noticed that something is afoot in Clapham Old Town. Lambeth Council has gone ahead with plans to completely regenerate this area of Clapham with a multi-million pound budget (£2.8 million). It’s one of the most ambitious regeneration schemes Clapham has seen in recent years and, following the Venn Street improvements, Love Clapham has to highly commend the council for such brilliant investment.
You can see an artist’s impression of what the area will look like in the picture above and more images on the architect Marks Barfield’s website. Work has already begun, which you can see happening right now if you pop down, with the aim to be finished in the New Year (around March time).
This will be a fantastic addition to the area and another reason for people to visit and live in Clapham. The main changes are:
- Increasing and improving the paved areas significantly to create a large pedestrian area, or, as the architect is calling it an “urban piazza” (massive LOLs right?!) – which will provide a space for people to enjoy in the summer and will make the restaurants and shops more accessible
- Moving the bus station stop to the other side, to sit within Clapham Common (we know this was controversial for the residents looking onto this but hopefully the improvements will prove worthwhile in the long run)
- Changing the main road to run in both directions, rather than the previous one-way system
- Introducing greenery with many more trees
You can find out more on the Lambeth Council website.
You heard it here first Clappers, signs are up on Blockbusters Clapham High Street saying there is an application for Morrison’s supermarkets to take over the store. Yes, another supermarket. You can still have a say, so do have a say!
Wouldn’t it be nice to get some clothes shops or something more fabulous.
Happy summer Clappers! Well, almost. It’s still a bit chilly but the sun’s out, the flowers are in bloom and we at Love Clapham HQ are feeling it. There have been quite a few developments around Clapham over recent months leading us into what promises to be a better summer in Claps than ever. Here’s the roundup…
WHSmith has opened on Clapham High Street, which might not seem like a huge deal but it’s significant as the first big brand shop to open since Boots took over from Woolworths a couple of years ago. Given that Clapham High Street has very limited shops compared to bars and restaurants, we’re happy about this.
Of course, the new Clapham Leisure Centre has been open for a few months now and is being heavily used – a great success after eighteen months without it, albeit with mixed feedback from our loyal readers.
Venn Street has really transformed the Clapham High Street area. Bringing a weekly market on Saturday’s with very high quality produce and snacks, but most noticeably for pedestrianising the road creating a community hub. We love it.
As you’ll see in the previous posts there’s huge debate about the bus station situation in Clapham Old Town – should more busses be stopping in one of Clapham’s prettiest spots?
Finally, Love Clapham has been hit with a series of stray cats, luckily they’ve all been re-homed. But where are they coming from?!
Clapham has been without a swimming pool for over a year but the new leisure centre (which looks something like the above drawing) is open. And dagnamit, it’s only got a swimming pool with a moving floor to change its depth! This probably entitles Clappers to say we have a ‘state of the art’ leisure centre. It also has a large gym area and a sports hall above it. Fabulous. For those of you going “whaaa? A new leisure centre? In Clapham?” you can find it on Clapham Manor Street next to the equally healthy KFC. Have you been yet, what do you think? Tell everyone below…