End of an era: London’s India Club to close its doors

End of an era: London’s India Club to close its doors

A slice of Indian history in the heart of London will be lost forever when India Club on the Strand closes its doors permanently next month.

After a protracted battle to save the institution, which harks as far back as the Indian Independence movement in its early avatar of India League as a meeting place for nationalists, the Club ensconced within the Strand Continental Hotel near the Indian High Commission in Aldwych is bowing out for good. The father-daughter management team of Yadgar and Phiroza Marker announced with a “heavy heart” that September 17 will be its last day.

British Indian think tank 1928 Institute, one of the diaspora organisations supporting the institution in its efforts to ward off closure, expressed sadness at the end of the road for the Club.

It said in a statement: “It’s extremely sad to see an historic British Indian institution like the India Club shut its doors permanently. Illustrious figures such Krishna Menon were all regulars at the India Club and much of India’s Independence movement was planned there.

“The India Club is so much more than a restaurant. It is a beacon of Indian food, history, and camaraderie for so many people that were trying to find their way in a new city, or even country, for decades.”

The Club’s founding members including Krishna Menon, who went on to become the first Indian High Commissioner to the UK. As well as housing one of the UK’s early vegetarian Indian restaurants, the Club was a popular hub for a rapidly growing British South Asian community in the aftermath of Indian independence in 1947.

“Menon intended the India Club to be a place where young Indian professionals living on a shoestring could afford to eat, discuss politics, and plan their futures,” noted Professor Parvathi Raman from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), who had worked on an exhibition entitled ‘A Home Away from Away: The India Club’ back in 2019. It was curated by the UK’s conservation charity National Trust as part of efforts to highlight its rich history.

Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor took to social media to express his sadness at the development.

The Club operated as a meeting spot and Indian restaurant since 1946 on the first floor of the Strand Continental Hotel. The freeholder of the building, Marston Properties, had earlier put in an application with Westminster City Council for a “partial demolition" to create a new hotel. The application was unanimously turned down by the Council in August 2018, noting the venue's importance as a cultural institution in the heart of London. But that victory proved short-lived, ending in the Club’s eventual closure.


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There are some hopes of an India Club being revived in some form at an alternate venue in the future.

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