History of Clapham Common

1086:       The Manor of Clapham (including the Common as part of its lands) mentioned in Domesday Book.

1642-51:   Civil War:  Atkins family (Clapham Manor) support the Commonwealth.

1716:          Battersea parishioners dug bank and ditch across Clapham Common to keep Clapham parishioners’ livestock out. Refilled by Clapham parishioners.

1746:         Mount Pond dug for gravel for the Turnpike Road in Tooting.

1768:         First Committee established to oversee Clapham Common after a Mr Franks attempted to dig a 50-yard trench through it. Benjamin Franklin conducted experiment to demonstrate the thickness of molecules by pouring oil onto one of CC’s ponds.

1772           Improvement works sponsored by Christopher Baldwin, a local magistrate, from public subscriptions.

1774-9       Holy Trinty Church built. Later (19th Century) famous as the meeting place of the Clapham Sect led by William Wilberforce. The Sect was a major force behind the abolition of slavery.

1780s          Number and frequency of public fairs restricted to Whit Sunday and Derby Day.

1825            Stage Coach services to Clapham stop around the Common. Omnibus service introduced in 1830.

1828           “The Common in the last century was little more than a morass and the roads over it were almost impassable” (Balten).

1836           Group of local residents form committee to preserve and improve the Common.

1848           Young’s Brewery of Wandsworth acquires freehold of the Windmill Pub.

1864           Attempt to run railway across the Common blocked by suubscribers.

1870s         Long Pond built -probably London’s oldest model yachting site.

1873            Clapham Common Golf Club formed (2nd oldest in London).

1877            Clapham Common acquired by Metropolitan Board of Works from the Lords of the Manors. 70 acres drained. Formal recreation grounds laid out. Regulations on sports and games issued.

1889            London County Council becomes responsible for the Common.

1890            Bandstand (Grade II listing) installed as centrepiece of new radial path network at the request of local residents. Reportedly the largest surviving bandstand in the UK.

1893             LCC fund raising and  levelling large parts of the Common.

1895             United Temperance Society and General Provident Institute drinking fountain (designed by von Kreiling, cast by F Mueller of Munich, Germany) moved to CC from London Bridge.

1913-18         Allotments along North Side.

1914              Sheep graze on the Common for the last time.

1914-18       WWI trench system dug on part of the Common.

1939-40       Barrage balloons, anti-aircraft batteries and farming destroted virtually all that remained  of the Common’s wildlife. The present day flat aspect derives from this period.

1940-42       Deep air raid shelter bulit at Clapham South.

1948             Land requisitioned by the War Office returned to LCC.

1954             First Greater London Horse Show – continued annually until 1985.

1963             Clapham Society formed with sub-committee charged “to maintain a balance between those who wish to use the sports facilities and children’s play facilities on the Common and those interested in quiet green areas in which to observe the wildlife of London”.

1965             Management of the Common passed to Greater London Council.

1971              Dispersal of GLC’s open spaces. CC passes to London Borough of Lambeth (LBL).

1987             400 mature trees lost in the Great Storm.

1996             Formation of the Management Advisory Committee (MAC).

1998             FCC formed for the protection and enhancement of London’s most used green space.

2004            Clapham Common Advisory Committee (CCMAC) evolves out of the MAC.

2006           Bandstand restoration, a project of the FCC, Clapham Society and LBL, completed with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

2008            FCC starts an annual tree planting programme with Trees for Cities.

2010-11        Mount Pond restored and improved.

2011              Bandstand berm renewed with granite setts. Trial wildflower meadow planted.

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