INDIA CLUB'S STORY
The charmingly eccentric India Club at 143 Strand has remained much the same since its opening over 50 years ago.
Hidden up a flight of stairs, India Club is part of London's history. It was originally set up by the India League, to further Indo-British friendship in the post-independence era, and it quickly became a base for groups serving the Asian community. The India Club at 143 Strand came to be recognised as a welcoming space where visitors could seek advice, connect culturally and speak their native language.
The Indian Journalist Association, Indian Workers Association and Indian Socialist Group of Britain were just some of the groups which used 143 Strand for their events and activities. The building was also a base for the new wings of the India League which ran a free legal advice bureau and a research and study unit from this address.
At a time when the daily lives and experiences of Asians in Britain could be difficult, 143 Strand was a significant focal point for the subcontinent diaspora communities. For a generation of pioneering migrants, it was a home away from home.
an interior untouched by time
The interior of 143 Strand, particularly the characterful and distinct entrance, stairwells, reception area, first floor bar and second floor restaurant, remain in the same condition as they were during the occupation of the property by the India League.
As a result,143 Strand's interior allows it's historical and cultural associations to be experienced first-hand by the public. It is the only building in the capital connected to the India League that has not been redeveloped or re-purposed. It therefore remains living history.
The premises is open to all and visitors comment on its ability to transport one to a bygone era.
an asset of community value
To this day, India Club is true to its original purpose as various Indo-British groups use it as their base, including the Calcutta Rowing Club, Goan Association and the Curry Club.
A recent petition to save the India Club from re-development provided a snapshot of the wider public support reaching over 26,000 signatures. Key themes from the petition comments include 143 Strand's role in UK-Indian heritage and the building being a ‘London institution,’ important to those living in the city. There includes a range of attachments to the building that go back in some cases to the 1950s, and comments setting out generations of visitors to the spot. It is very much part of Westminster’s fabric.
In 2019, the National Trust held an exhibition on the India Club at 143 Strand itself, in recognition of the Club's far-reaching cultural importance. The oral histories gathered from this exhibition are permanently housed at the British Library.