National Liberal Club

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National Liberal Club
National Liberal Club.JPG
The National Liberal Club, London
viewed from the Thames Embankment.
Alternative names NLC
The National Liberal
General information
Status Private members' club
Architectural style French Renaissance
Address 1 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2HE
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Groundbreaking 1884
Completed 1887
Opened 1887
Design and construction
Architect Alfred Waterhouse

The National Liberal Club, known to its members as the NLC, is a London gentlemen's club (open to both men and women), which was established by William Ewart Gladstone in 1882 for the purpose of providing club facilities for Liberal Party campaigners among the newly enlarged electorate after the Third Reform Act. The club's impressive neo-Gothic building over the Embankment of the river Thames is the second-largest clubhouse ever built. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, it was not completed until 1887.[1] Its facilities include a dining room, a bar, function rooms, a billiards room, a smoking room, and a library, as well as an outdoor riverside terrace overlooking the London Eye. It is located at Whitehall Place, close to the Houses of Parliament, the Thames Embankment and Trafalgar Square.


Early years

The genesis of the club lay with Liberal party activist (and later MP) Arthur John Williams, who proposed the creation of such a club at a Special General Meeting of the short-lived Century Club on 14 May 1882, so as to provide "a home for democracy, void of the class distinction associated with the Devonshire and Reform Clubs", and the first full meeting of the new club was on 16 November 1882, at the Westminster Palace Hotel on Victoria Street. The Century Club itself then merged into the NLC at the end of the year.[2] In its early years, the club declared its objects to be:

1. The provision of an inexpensive meeting place for Liberals and their friends from all over the country.
2. The furtherance of the Liberal cause.
3. The foundation of a political and historical library as a memorial to Gladstone and his work.[3]

An initial circular for subscribers meant that by the end of 1882, 2,500 men from over 500 towns and districts had already signed up for the new club, and membership would reach 6,500 by the time the clubhouse opened in 1887.[4]

The club's foundation stone was laid by Gladstone on 9 November 1884, when he declared "Speaking generally, I should say there could not be a less interesting occasion than the laying of the foundation-stone of a Club in London. For, after all, what are the Clubs of London? I am afraid little else than temples of luxury and ease. This, however, is a club of a very different character", and envisioned the club as a popular institution for the mass electorate.[5] However, another of the club's founders, G. W. E. Russell, noted "We certainly never foresaw the palatial pile of terra-cotta and glazed tiles which now bears that name. Our modest object was to provide a central meeting-place for Metropolitan and provincial Liberals, where all the comforts of life should be attainable at what are called 'popular prices'", but added "at the least, we meant our Club to be a place of "ease" to the Radical toiler. But Gladstone insisted that it was to be a workshop dedicated to strenuous labour."[5] Funds for the clubhouse were raised by selling 40,000 shares of £5 each, in a Limited Liability Company, with the unusual stipulation that "No shareholder should have more than ten votes", so as to prevent a few wealthy men from dominating the club.[4] However, this only raised £70,000,[6] and so an additional £52,400 was raised for the construction of the clubhouse by the Liberal Central Association.[7] The remaining £30,000 necessary was raised by mortgage debentures.[6]

Four times Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone was the club's first President. A keen feller of trees in his spare time, his axe is still on display in the club Smoking Room today, along with a chest made from an oak tree cut down by Gladstone.

In the five years between the club's establishment and completion of the building in 1887, it occupied temporary premises on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Trafalgar Square. During this time, a parliamentary question was asked in the House of Commons about the White Ensign being raised on the club's flagpole as part of a prank.[8]

The clubhouse was still unfinished when it opened its doors in 1887, but it was opened early on 20 June to allow members to watch that year's Jubilee processions from the club terrace.[3] (The opening was marked by an inaugural banquet for 1,900 people at the Royal Aquarium off Parliament Square, which Punch reported saw the consumption of 200 dozen bottles of Pommery champagne.)[3][6] It was when the club had only recently moved to its present address that "Bloody Sunday" ensued on its doorstep during the Trafalgar Square riot of 13 November 1887. NLC members flocked to the windows to watch George Bernard Shaw (a member of the club) address the demonstration, and later in the day, witnessed the bloodshed which ensued.[9]

In its late-19th-century heyday, its membership was primarily political, but had a strong journalistic and even bohemian character. Members were known to finish an evening's dining by diving into the Thames.[4] Of the club's political character, George Bernard Shaw remarked at a debate in the club, "I have never yet met a member of the National Liberal Club who did not intend to get into Parliament at some time, except those who, like our chairman Lord Carrington, are there already."[10]

On the club's launch, it represented all factions of liberalism, but within four years it was rocked by the Home Rule Crisis of 1886, which saw the Liberal Unionists led by Joseph Chamberlain and the Marquess of Hartington (both of whom had been founder members of the NLC) secede from the party and eventually go into alliance with the Conservatives. Indeed, Chamberlain had been one of the NLC's most enthusiastic promoters upon its launch. At the 1884 ceremony of Gladstone's foundation-stone-laying for the club, Hartington had argued that the club would be the future home of Chamberlain's Radical Birmingham Caucus, and Chamberlain pointedly refused to contradict him.[11] Chamberlain himself resigned in 1886, shortly after the Home Rule split, Hartington and other prominent Liberal Unionists followed early in 1887,[12] and when a further 130 Unionists simultaneously seceded from the club in 1889, the Scots Observer called it "one of the most important events that has recently occurred in home politics", due to its ramifications for the Liberal Party breaking in two.[13]

The club enjoyed a reputation for radicalism, and H. V. Emy records that Radicals secured,

"a distinct success when the Radical wing of the National Liberal Club (NLC) captured the club's organisation in the summer of 1897 and elected a new political committee with [Henry] Labouchere as the chairman and H. J. Reckitt as secretary. The Committee itself included Sir Robert Reid, [Philip] Stanhope, Herbert Samuel, Rufus Isaacs and W. F. Thompson, the editor of Reynold's News. The Committee wrote an open letter to the constituencies, asking them for their opinions on policy, designating several areas where opinion would be welcome. By November, the replies indicated that the weight of opinion lay with the democratisation of Parliament, involving the abolition of the Lords' veto, reform of registration and electoral law, and devolution. Amongst 'other prominent reforms' were included all the major issues of the day (except nationalisation). These were then drafted into a manifesto of Radical reform which was 'greatly resented by the official organisation.' 38,000 copies were circulated, and a meeting of the General Committee of the NLF at Derby agreed to make reform a priority, a decision endorsed by [H. H.] Asquith a few days later."[14]

This reputation for radicalism was underlined when former Liberal Prime Minister Lord Rosebery resigned from the club in September 1909, denouncing it as "a hotbed of socialism."[1]

Several discussion groups met at the club, including the Rainbow Circle in the 1890s, an influential group of Liberal, Fabian and socialist thinkers who came to be identified with the Bloomsbury Group.[15]

It was also the site of much intrigue in the Liberal Party over the years, rivalling the Reform Club as a social centre for Liberals by the advent of World War I, although its membership was largely based on Liberal activists in the country at large; it was built on such a large scale to provide London club facilities for Liberal activists from around the country, justifying its use of the description 'national'.

On 22 March 1893, during the Second Reading of the Clubs Registration Bill, the Conservative MP (and later Liberal defector) Thomas Gibson Bowles told the House of Commons "I am informed there is an establishment not far from the House frequented by Radical millionaires and released prisoners, the National Liberal Club, where an enormous quantity of whisky is consumed."[16] Despite this remark, it seems that the club accounted for relatively little alcohol consumption by the standards of the day – Herbert Samuel commented in 1909 that the average annual consumption of alcoholic liquor per NLC member was 31s. 4d. per annum, which compared very favourably with equivalent Conservative clubs, including 33s. 5d. for the nearby Constitutional Club, 48s. for the City Carlton Club, and 77s. for the Junior Carlton Club.[17] One possible explanation is the strength of the Temperance movement in the Liberal party at the time.

On 3 December 1909, Liberal Chancellor David Lloyd George used the club to make a speech fiercely denouncing the House of Lords, in what was seen as a de facto launch of the "People's Budget" general election of January 1910.[18]

On 21 November 1911, the club was one of a number of buildings to have their windows smashed in by the suffragette Women's Social and Political Union, in protest at the Liberal government's inaction over votes for women.[19]

During the Marconi scandal of 1912, Winston Churchill used a speech to the club to mount an impassioned defence of embattled ministers David Lloyd George and Rufus Isaacs, asserting that there was "no stain of any kind" upon their characters.[20]

World War I

This Trafalgar Square building temporarily housed the NLC twice; once in 1882–87, whilst the club's own premises were being built; and again 1916–19 when the club building was requisitioned for war work.

From late 1916 to December 1919, the clubhouse was requisitioned by the British government for use as a billet for Canadian troops, the club relocating to nearby Northumberland Avenue in the meantime. Many of these troops were offered heavily discounted temporary club membership during their stay, although it appears that some overstayed their welcome – a "farewell dinner" by the club on 19 March 1919 attempted to hint that their departure was imminently expected. At the end of the First World War, the Canadian soldiers who had stayed there presented the club with a moose head as a gift of thanks, which was hung in the billiards room for many years. After the troops finally left in December 1919, the club was closed for a year for renovations (partly necessitated by the damage done by the troops), and did not re-open until 19 December 1920.[4]

As H. H. Asquith was deposed as Prime Minister by David Lloyd George, he spent his last full evening as Prime Minister on 8 December 1916 reporting to a full meeting of the Liberal Party at the club. It provided an overwhelming vote of confidence in his leadership.[21]

Inter-war years

During the party's 1916–23 split, the Asquith wing of the party was in the ascendant in the club, while Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George (who had been a regular by the Smoking Room in previous years, often found warming his bottom by the fireplace where his portrait now hangs) was personally shunned by many NLC members. This was a highly acrimonious time within the Liberal party, with both the Asquithian and Lloyd Georgeite factions believing themselves to be the 'true' Liberal party, and viewing the other faction as 'traitors'.[4] Michael Bentley has written of this period that "The Lloyd George Liberal Magazine, which appeared monthly between October 1920 and December 1923, spent much space attacking the National Liberal Club for its continued Asquithian partisanship – in particular for its refusal to hang portraits of Lloyd George and Churchill in the main club rooms, or to accept nominations for membership from Coalition Liberals. The creation of a separate '1920 Club' in neighbouring Whitehall Court was one reaction to this treatment."[22] The Lloyd George and Churchill portraits were removed in 1921 and put into the club's cellar.[23] At the time, the Asquithians were popularly known as "Wee Frees", and historian Cameron Hazlehurst wrote that, "the civilities of social life at the National Liberal Club were increasingly reserved by 'Wee Frees' for 'Wee Frees.'" [24]

The reunion of the two branches of the Liberal Party in the run-up to the December 1923 general election meant that the neighbouring 1920 Club for Lloyd George supporters was disbanded, and "the portraits of Lloyd George and [fellow Lloyd George Liberal] Churchill, long consigned to the cellar, were recovered and reinstated in the places of honour in the smoking room",[25] although Churchill's defection back to the Conservatives within less than a year meant that his portrait was just as swiftly returned to the basement, and would not re-emerge for 16 years.[26]

A copy of this print of F. E. Smith is on display in the same club facilities used by Smith, along with a caption recounting the well-known anecdote (see right).

There is a well-known story told of the NLC, that the Conservative politician F. E. Smith would stop off there every day on his way to Parliament, to use the club's lavatories. One day the hall porter apprehended Smith and asked him if he was actually a member of the club, to which Smith replied "Good god! You mean it's a club as well?". This story, and apocryphal variations thereof (usually substituting Smith with Churchill), are told of many different clubs. The original related to the NLC, at the half-way point between Parliament and Smith's chambers in Elm Court, Temple. The comment was a jibe at the brown tiles in some of the NLC's late-Victorian architecture.[27]

During the hung parliament of 1923–24, it was at the club that Asquith – as Leader of the reunited Liberal Party – announced on 6 December 1923 that the Liberals would support Ramsay MacDonald in forming Britain's first ever Labour government.[28]

The club continued to be a venue for large-scale meetings of Liberals. On Armistice Day 1924, over one hundred defeated Liberal candidates met at the club to express their anger at Lloyd George's failure to use his infamous "Lloyd George fund" to help the Liberals in the disastrous general election campaign one month earlier.[29] After the 1929 general election, the first meeting of the newly expanded Parliamentary Liberal Party was held at the club, with all MPs except one (the independently minded Rhys Hopkin Morris) re-electing Lloyd George as Liberal Party Leader.[30]

In 1932, the club first introduced non-political membership (now called Ordinary Membership). Michael Meadowcroft explains that this was done to provide, "membership for Liberals who, by reason of their employment, such as judges, military officers or senior civil servants, were not permitted to divulge their politics", and so who had been previously debarred by the club's insistence on all members signing a declaration of Liberal politics.[6] This continues to this day, with Ordinary Members signing a pledge that they will "not use the club or...membership thereof for political activities adverse to Liberalism", and not having full voting rights at Annual General Meetings, but otherwise enjoying the full benefits of club membership.[31]

World War II

On 11 May 1941 the club suffered a direct hit by a Luftwaffe bomb during the Blitz, which utterly destroyed the central staircase and caused considerable damage elsewhere. The £150,000 cost of reconstructing the staircase in 1950 placed a considerable strain on the club's finances, although generous support from the War Damage Commission helped to fund the new staircase.[32] In the nine-year interim between the bomb blast and the rebuilding of the staircase, members had to use the stairs of the club's turret tower, often taking highly circuitous routes around the vast clubhouse.

One of the items damaged in the blast was the 1915 portrait of Winston Churchill (a member of the club), by Ernest Townsend. Ironically, after 25 years of being hidden from sight, it had only just been put on display the year before. Painted in the year of the Dardanelles Campaign, Churchill was soon unavailable for unveiling the portrait as he went into exile in the trenches. After his return, his strong support for the Lloyd George coalition meant that from 1916 he proved to be persona non-grata at the club, and this only increased after he left the Liberal Party in 1924. Thus from 1915 to 1940, the painting was held by the club in storage. When Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, the club rushed out the painting and put it on display in the main lobby (where it still hangs today). It was bombed after one year, suffering a diagonal gash down the middle. The painting was then painstakingly restored, and Churchill re-unveiled it himself on 22 July 1943, at a ceremony also attended by his wife (a lifelong Liberal), Liberal Leader Sir Archibald Sinclair (a friend and colleague of over 30 years, then serving in Churchill's cabinet), lifelong friend Lady Violet Bonham Carter, Club chairman Lord Meston and cartoonist David Low.[33]

Post-war era

The interior

The fortunes of the NLC have mirrored those of the Liberal Party – as the Liberals declined as a national force in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, so did the NLC. However, despite the Liberals' national decline, the NLC remained a focus for debate.

In the early 1950s, it was a centre of anti-ID card sentiment, and Harry Willcock, a member who successfully campaigned for the abolition of ID cards, tore his up in front of the club as a publicity stunt in 1951. He also died in the club during a debate held there on 12 December 1952, with his last word being "Freedom."[34]

It was at a debate at the club in 1971 that Yale professor James Tobin first publicly voiced his proposal for a Tobin tax on financial transactions.[35]

In addition to the Blitz bombing in 1941, the club also sustained an attack from an IRA bomb at 12 past midnight on 22 December 1973 (as part of a concerted Christmas bombing campaign) which blew open the front door and gashed the duty manager's arm,[36][37][38] while on 10 January 1992 an IRA briefcase bomb exploded outside the club, shattering many of its windows.[39]

During the February 1974 general election campaign, Liberal Leader Jeremy Thorpe was defending a wafer-thin majority of 369 votes in his Devon constituency. Instead of fighting a "typical" party leader's election campaign based in London and focusing on the London-based media, Thorpe spent almost the entire election in his constituency, keeping in contact with the national press via a live closed-circuit television link-up to daily press conferences at the National Liberal Club. Thorpe later credited this system with giving him more time to think of answers to questions, and it helped to keep the Liberal campaign both distinctive and modern.[40] Further Liberal election campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s would retain the idea of a daily press conference at the NLC, but with live participants rather than a TV link-up to the party leader.[41]

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, all London clubs were in serious decline,[1] and the NLC was no exception. By the 1970s the club was in a serious state of disrepair, its membership dwindling, and its finances losing almost a thousand pounds a week. In 1976 Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe handed over the club to Canadian businessman George Marks, styling himself George de Chabris (and, more improbably, "His Serene Holiness the Prince de Chabris", which he claimed was "a Catholic title"), who, unknown to Thorpe, was a confidence trickster. "De Chabris" claimed to be a multi-millionaire willing to funnel money into the club (although both his wealth and his willingness to finance the club turned out to be untrue), and he spent nine months running the club, relaxing membership rules and bringing in more income, but also moving his family in rent-free, running several fraudulent businesses from its premises, paying for a sports car and his children's private school fees from the club's accounts, and he eventually left in a hurry owing the club £60,000, even emptying out the cash till of the day's takings as he went. He eventually agreed to pay back half of that sum in instalments. In his time at the club he also sold it a painting for £10,000, when it was valued at less than £1,000.[42] One of his more controversial reforms was to sell the National Liberal Club's Gladstone Library (which contained the largest library of 17th- to 20th-century political material in the country, including 35,000 books and over 30,000 pamphlets) to the University of Bristol for £40,000. The pretext given was that the club could no longer afford to pay the Librarian's wages, and that it did not want to leave such valuable material unguarded.[43] Ian Bradley described it as "a derisory sum" for the sale, particularly in light of the unique collection of accumulated candidates' manifestos from 19th-century general elections.[44] Until its sale, it had been, as Peter Harris observed, "The most extensive of the Club libraries of London."[3] The collection is still housed at Bristol today. However, the papers referring to the history of the club itself were returned to the NLC the 1990s, as they had not been included in the sale, and had been sent to Bristol by accident.

After the 1977 dismissal of de Chabris, a 1978 rescue package by Sir Lawrence Robson (a former Liberal Party President and parliamentary candidate, co-founder and partner of Robson Rhodes, and husband of Liberal peer Baroness Robson) did much to stabilise the club and secure its future – to this day the club honours Sir Lawrence with a portrait in the Smoking Room, and one of its function rooms has been renamed the Lawrence Robson Room.

As the Liberal Party's lease on its headquarters expired in 1977, the party organisation moved to the upper floors of the NLC, the negotiations being arranged by "de Chabris". The Liberals occupied a suite of rooms on the second floor, and a series of offices converted from bedrooms on the upper floors. The party continued to operate from the NLC until 1988, when it merged with the Social Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democrats, and moved to occupy the SDP's old headquarters in Cowley Street. During this time, party workers were known to avail themselves of the club downstairs, and the NLC bar became known as the "Liberal Party's 'local'" and a Liberal Party song "Down at the Old NLC" was written in response to this:

"Come, come, roll up your trouser leg
Down at the old NLC.
Come, come, stuff your coat on the peg,
Down at the old NLC.
There to get your apron on:
Learn the secret organ song;
Bend your thumb when you shake hands.
Come, come, drinking till the dinner gong,
Down at the old NLC."
(1985. Words: Mark Tavener. Tune: Down at the Old Bull and Bush)[45]

In the autumn of 1980, former Liberal Leader Jo Grimond delivered the inaugural 'Eighty Club' lecture to the Association of Liberal Lawyers at the club, drawing press attention for his scathing criticism of those Liberals who believed that their future lay in some form of social democracy, or what he termed, "a better yesterday."[46]

In 1985, the club undertook a two-year negotiation to sell off its second-floor and basement function rooms, and the 140 bedrooms from the third floor to the eighth floor (including two vast ballrooms and the Gladstone Library, which had contained 35,000 volumes before their sale in 1977, and was standing empty by the 1980s) to the adjoining Royal Horseguards Hotel, which is approached from a different entrance, and which has operated as a hotel since 1971. This was not without some dissent among the membership, but the sale ensured that the club's financial future was secure, and the remaining part of the club still operating, mainly on the ground and first floors of the vast building, still remains one of the largest clubhouses in the world.[47] Originally built for 6,000 members, the club still provides facilities for around 2,000.

The club's calendar includes an Annual Whitebait Supper, where members depart by river from Embankment Pier, downstream to The Trafalgar, the Greenwich tavern which Gladstone used to take his cabinet ministers to by boat; as well as the Political and Economic Circle, which was founded by Gladstone in the 1890s.

On 17 July 2002, Jeremy Paxman gave a well-publicised interview with Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy in the club's Smoking Room for an edition of Newsnight. The interview generated much controversy over Paxman's querying Kennedy's alcohol intake, including his asking, "Does it trouble you that every single politician to whom we've spoken in preparing for this interview said the same thing – 'You're interviewing Charles Kennedy, I hope he's sober'?" It was the first time a major television interview had raised the topic with the Lib Dem leader, who would resign three and half years later after admitting to suffering from alcoholism.[48]

In the 2006 Liberal Democrats leadership election, Chris Huhne launched his leadership campaign from the main staircase of the club,[49] while in the 2007 Liberal Democrats leadership election, frontrunner and eventual winner Nick Clegg launched his successful leadership bid from the club's David Lloyd George Room, praising "the elegance of the National Liberal Club".[50] As party leader, Clegg has delivered further landmark addresses at the club, such as his "muscular liberalism" speech of 11 May 2011, marking one year of the Liberal Democrats in power as part of the Conservative-led coalition government.[51]


Noted British architect Alfred Waterhouse designed the building

Designed by leading Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse in a neo-Gothic style similar to his Natural History Museum, the clubhouse was constructed at a cost of some £165,950; a substantial sum in 1884, worth a little over £15 billion in 2014.[3] An earlier design by architect John Carr was rejected by members.[3][52]

The NLC was described by Munsey's Magazine in 1902 as possessing, "The most imposing clubhouse in the British metropolis",[53] and at the time of its construction, it was the largest clubhouse ever built; only the subsequent Royal Automobile Club building from 1910 was larger. The NLC's building once hosted its own branch of the Post Office,[54] something which the Royal Automobile Club still does. Waterhouse's design blended French, Gothic and Italianate elements, with heavy use of Victorian Leeds Burmantofts Pottery tilework manufactured by Wilcox and Co.[3] The clubhouse is built around load-bearing steelwork concealed throughout the structure, including steel columns inside the tiled pillars found throughout the club.[3] (It was this resilient structure which enabled the building to survive a direct hit in the Blitz.) Waterhouse's work extended to designing the club's furnishings, down to the Dining Room chairs.[3]

It was the first London building to incorporate a lift, and the first to be entirely lit throughout by electric lighting. To provide its electricity, the Whitehall Supply Co. Ltd. was incorporated in 1887, being based underneath the club's raised terrace. By the time the supply opened in 1888, it had been bought by the expanding Metropolitan Electricity Supply Co.[55] NLC members were so enamoured with the modern wonder of electric lighting that the original chandeliers featured bare light bulbs, whose distinctive hue was much prized at the time.[56]

The club's wine cellar was converted from a trench dug in 1865, intended to be the Waterloo and Whitehall Railway, stretching from Scotland Yard to Waterloo station, which planned to carry freight that would have been powered by air pressure; digging was abandoned in 1868, and when the company wound up in 1882, the National Liberal Club adapted the tunnel to its present use.[57]

Over the years, numerous Liberal and Liberal Democrat MPs have lived at the club, including David Lloyd George in the 1890s,[58] Cyril Smith in the 1970s[59] and Menzies Campbell in the late 1980s.[60]

The NLC in literature

The club has had a number of members who were notable authors, including Rupert Brooke, G. K. Chesterton, Jerome K. Jerome, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, Dylan Thomas, H. G. Wells and Leonard Woolf; several of whom featured the club in some of their works of literature.

Additionally, the Authors' Club, founded in 1891 in neighbouring Whitehall Court, lodged with the National Liberal Club between 1966 and 1976, and has done so again since 2014.

  • G. K. Chesterton, who was a member, mentions it as a setting in the short story "The Notable Conduct of Professor Chadd" in his collection The Club of Queer Trades (1905), with the narrator having a one-hour conversation on politics and God with a judge he meets on the club's balcony.[61]
  • H. G. Wells, who was also a member, referred to the club in one scene of his autobiographical novel Tono-Bungay (1909), in which the narrator George Ponderevo visits the club dining room with his uncle, admiring "the numerous bright-shaded tables ... the shiny ceramic columns and pilasters, [and looked] at the impressive portraits of Liberal statesmen and heroes, and all that contributes to the ensemble of that palatial spectacle."[62]
  • H. G. Wells also gave a lengthy description of the NLC in his novel The New Machiavelli (1911), discussing the narrator's experience of visiting the club during the 1906 general election:
NLC member H. G. Wells painted a vivid, detailed portrait of the club at the time of the Liberal landslide of 1906.
Wells later described the State Opening of the new 1906 parliament:
About the club more broadly, Wells' narrator reflected:
  • Foe-Farrell (1918) by Arthur Quiller-Couch features a scene in which the intoxicated title character is apprehended after a night of drunken excess, and pleads that he is a member of the NLC. The narrator tells him "the National Liberal Club carries its own recommendation. What's more, it's going to be the saving of us...They'll admit you,and that's where you'll sleep to-night. The night porter will hunt out a pair of pyjamas and escort you up the lift. Oh, he's used to it. He gets politicians from Bradford and such places dropping in at all hours. Don't try the marble staircase—it's winding and slippery at the edge."[64]
  • The club is referred to in passing in several P. G. Wodehouse stories:
  • In a Mulliner tale in the short story collection Young Men in Spats (1936), Mr. Mulliner describes a state of complete pandemonium as being "more like that of Guest Night at the National Liberal Club than anything he had ever encountered."
  • In the short story collection Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (1940), Bingo Little makes an ill-considered bet on a horse after a perceived omen: "On the eve of the race he had a nightmare in which he saw his Uncle Wilberforce dancing the rumba in the nude on the steps of the National Liberal Club and, like a silly ass, accepted this as a bit of stable information."
  • In the novel The Adventures of Sally (1922), it is said that an uncle of Lancelot "Ginger" Kemp is "a worthy man, highly respected in the National Liberal Club".[65][66]
  • The 1920s-set detective thriller The Blyth House Murder (2011) by Terry Minahan features the club as a setting, with Chapter 8 entitled "Murder at the National Liberal Club."[67]


Long-standing Liberal and Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith has been the club's President since 2008.

The NLC is a private members' club, with membership needing the nomination of an existing member, and a waiting period of at least one month. Members are either Political Members, who sign a declaration that they are a Liberal in their politics, or Ordinary (i.e. non-political) Members, who sign a declaration that they shall not use the club's facilities or their membership for 'political activities adverse to Liberalism.' Ordinary Membership was first introduced in 1932, to allow Liberals to join when they had been barred up until that point, as several occupations such as judges, army officers and senior civil servants specifically forbade political declarations.[68]

In keeping with its liberal roots, it was one of the first gentlemen's club to allow ethnic minorities as members (although a handful of other clubs did so as well, including the East India Club whose members included Sir Jamsetjee Jejebhoy). The first recorded ethnic minority member of the NLC, Dadabhai Naoroji was admitted in 1885, when the club was less than three years old, and spurred on by Club Secretary William Digby, by the late 1880s, the club had a large overseas membership, particularly concentrated in India and among Indian nationals resident in London.[69]

It did not admit women as full members until 1976, although this did still make it the first major London club to admit women, while many other such clubs did not admit women until the 1990s or 2000s (and several still do not). It offered women an 'associate membership' category from 1968 until 1976.

A stringent dress code is still strictly enforced: male members must wear a jacket and tie at all times, with female members maintaining a similar level of formality, and items such as jeans and trainers banned. Formal military wear and religious wear are acceptable alternatives. A single exception to the dress code is on hot summer days, when members are permitted to remove their jackets on the club's terrace, but not within the club itself.

It is one of the few London clubs to contain another club within — since 1990, the NLC has also been home to the Savage Club, which lodges in some rooms on the ground floor.

In return for a collective subscription, members of the Old Millhillian's Club (OMC) have also been allowed to use the NLC clubhouse since 1968, when their own neighbouring Whitehall Court clubhouse closed down.

Film and television appearances

Over the years, the club has often been used as a film and television location.

The club has been used as a location in numerous films and television programmes, including:

Notable members

Over the years the NLC has contained a large number of notable members. In addition to many politicians (including seven Prime Ministers – five Liberals from Gladstone to Lloyd George, one Labour [Ramsay Macdonald] and one Conservative [Winston Churchill]), its membership has also contained a sizeable literary element, with writers including Rupert Brooke, John Creasey, Jerome K. Jerome, George Newnes, C. P. Scott, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, Edgar Wallace, H. G. Wells and Leonard Woolf.

Besides the members, famous guests who have signed the Visitors' Book over the years have included Tony Benn, Mahatma Gandhi, Field Marshal Montgomery, and Harold Wilson.[105]

Notable expulsions/resignations from the club

The young Winston Churchill was a member of the club for over 18 years.
  • Jabez Balfour, property developer and Liberal MP 1880–85 & 1889–93, convicted of property fraud involving a pyramid scheme when constructing the building next door to the club; a founder member, expelled from the club.[4][106][107]
  • Sir Edward Carson, Leader of the Irish Unionist party 1910–21, Unionist MP 1892–1921, did not resign from the club until 1887, even though he joined the Liberal Unionists almost immediately upon their split in 1886 – something about which he was periodically teased for decades afterwards by political rivals including Winston Churchill.[108]
  • Joseph Chamberlain, Liberal (later Liberal Unionist) MP 1876–1914, President of the Board of Trade 1880–85, President of the Local Government Board 1886, Colonial Secretary 1895–1903, Leader of the Liberal Unionists after the 1886 split, resigning from the NLC shortly thereafter[70]
  • Winston Churchill, Conservative Prime Minister 1940–45 and 1951–55, MP 1900–22 & 1924–64, sitting as a Liberal MP 1904–22. A banquet was held at the NLC (in what is now the Lloyd George Room) on 20 January 1905 to mark his defection to the Liberals several months earlier. He joined the club on 6 January 1906 (having been sponsored by Lloyd George and the club's then-President and chairman Lord Carrington), and resigned from it on 26 November 1924, one month after joining the Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin. He gave ten speeches at the club between 1905 and 1943, and continued to lunch there as a guest during World War II.[33]
  • Marquess of Hartington, Leader of the Liberal Party 1875–80, Secretary of State for War 1866 & 1882–85, Chief Secretary for Ireland 1871–74, Secretary of State for India 1880–82, Liberal (later Liberal Unionist) MP 1857–68 & 1869–1891; resigned from the club in 1887 over Home Rule[12]
  • Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, Liberal Prime Minister 1894–95, resigned from the club in September 1909, denouncing it as "a hotbed of socialism."[1]
  • John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon, Home Secretary 1915–16 & 1935–37, Foreign Secretary 1931–35, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1937–40, Lord Chancellor 1940–45, Liberal (later National Liberal) MP 1906–18 & 1922–40, Leader of the National Liberal Party 1931–40; forced to resign from the NLC after speaking in support of the Conservative candidate in the Croydon North by-election, 1948[95]

Notable rejections of applications for membership

  • Charles Bradlaugh, secularist and radical Liberal MP 1880–91, was invited to join the club at its launch in 1882 (along with all other Liberal MPs), but then suffered the ignominity of being rejected when he submitted his application. However, he eventually joined the club in 1890.[109] Walter Sickert's portrait of Bradlaugh now hangs in the club.

Notable staff

  • George Awdry (1916–94), younger brother of Thomas the Tank Engine creator the Rev. W. Awdry, was the Club Librarian from the 1950s until 1977, and often assisted in writing his brother's books. An active member of the Richard III Society, for many years he ensured that they were able to hold their meetings at the club.[110][111]
  • William Digby, author, journalist and humanitarian was the NLC's first Club Secretary from 1882 to 1887.[112]
  • Arthur Wollaston Hutton, writer and theologian, was Club Librarian from 1889–1899.[113]
  • The left-wing playwright Harold Pinter worked as a waiter at the club in the 1950s, and was fired for daring to interrupt the conversation of several diners, disagreeing with what he thought to be a particularly ignorant conversation.[114]

Reciprocal arrangements

The club is open to members from Mondays to Fridays, 8:00am–11:30pm. During the weekend members may use either the Oxford and Cambridge Club in Pall Mall, the RAF Club on Piccadilly, or the East India Club in St. James's Square. The club's link with the latter relates to the East India incorporating the now-defunct Devonshire Club, which was another Liberal-affiliated club of the 19th century. There are also reciprocal arrangements with over 160 other clubs worldwide, granting members a comfortable place to stay and to entertain when abroad. The club does not affiliate with the NULC (National Union of Liberal Clubs), which represents the interests of Liberal Working Men's Clubs in the country nationwide.

List of reciprocal clubs worldwide

As of 2016, the NLC's reciprocal clubs around the world are as follows (club foundation dates are provided in brackets):[115]

  • Africa:
  • Egypt: Cairo Capital Club, Cairo (1997).
  • South Africa:
  • Gauteng: Rand Club, Johannesburg (1887); Wanderers Club, Johannesburg (1888).
  • KwaZulu-Natal: Durban Club, Durban (1854).
  • Northern Cape: Kimberley Club, Kimberley (1881).
  • Western Cape: Cape Town Club, Cape Town (1858).
  • Asia:
  • Bahrain: British Club, Manama (1835).
  • Cambodia: Vault Club, Phnom Penh (2012).
  • China:
  • India:
  • Delhi National Capital Territory: Delhi Gymkhana Club, New Delhi (1913).
  • Karnataka: Bangalore Club, Bangalore (1868); Century Club, Bangalore (1917); Mangalore Club, Mangalore (1876).
  • Maharashtra: PYC Hindu Gymkhana, Pune (1999); Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Mumbai (1846); Willingdon Sports Club, Mumbai (1918).
  • Rajasthan: Golden Days Club, Jaipur (1996); Jaisal Club, Jaipur (2000); Umed Club, Jodhpur (1922).
  • Tamil Nadu: Cosmopolitan Club, Chennai (1873); Presidency Club, Chennai (1929).
  • Telangana: Secunderabad Club, Secunderabad (1878).
  • Uttar Pradesh: Oudh Gymkhana Club, Lucknow (1933); Stellar Gymkhana, Greater Noida (2005).
  • West Bengal: Bengal Club, Kolkata (1827); Calcutta Club, Kolkata (1907); Saturday Club, Kolkata (1875).
  • Indonesia: Mercantile Athletic Club, Jakarta (1992).
  • Japan:
  • Malaysia: Penang Club, George Town (1868); Royal Sungei Ujong Club, Seremban (1887).
  • Pakistan:
  • Balochistan: Quetta Club, Quetta (1891).
  • Punjab: Chenab Club, Faisalabad (1910); Lahore Gymkhana Club, Lahore (1878).
  • Islamabad Capital Territory: Islamabad Club, Islamabad (1967).
  • Sindh: Karachi Gymkhana, Karachi (1886).
  • Singapore: Singapore Cricket Club, Singapore (1852).
  • Sri Lanka: Colombo Club, Colombo (1871).
  • Thailand: Bangkok Club, Bangkok (1995); British Club, Bangkok (1903); Garden City Lagoon Club, Bangkok (1993); Garden City Sports Club, Bangkok (1993).
  • United Arab Emirates:
  • Emirate of Abu Dhabi: The Club, Abu Dhabi (1962).
  • Dubai: World Trade Club, Dubai (1989).
  • Australasia:
  • Australia:
  • Australian Capital Territory: University House, Canberra (1954).
  • New South Wales: City Tattersalls Club, Sydney (1895); Newcastle Club, Newcastle (1885); Riverine Club, Wagga Wagga (1881); Tattersalls Club, Sydney (1858).
  • Queensland: Brisbane Club, Brisbane (1903).
  • South Australia: Adelaide Club, Adelaide (1863).
  • Victoria: Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Melbourne (1903).
  • Western Australia: Western Australia Club, Perth (1893).
  • New Zealand:
  • Auckland: Northern Club, Auckland (1869).
  • Canterbury: Canterbury Club, Christchurch (1872).
  • Hawke's Bay: Hawke's Bay Club, Napier (1863).
  • Invercargill: Invercargill Club, Invercargill (1879).
  • Otago: Dundedin Club, Dunedin (1858).
  • Wellington: Wellington Club, Wellington (1841).
  • Europe:
  • Belgium:
  • Berlin: International Club, Berlin (1994).
  • Hamburg: Business Club, Hamburg (2009).
  • Hesse: Union International Club, Frankfurt (1956).
  • North Rhine-Westphalia: Rotonda Business Club, Cologne (2010); Wirtschaftsclub Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf (2003).
  • Hungary: Brody House, Budapest (2009).
  • Ireland: Royal Dublin Society, Dublin (1731); Stephen's Green Hibernian Club, Dublin (1840).
  • Luxembourg: Cercle Munster, Luxembourg (1984).
  • Malta: Malta Union Club, Sliema (1826); Marsa Sports Club, Marsa (1888).
  • Norway: Shippingklubben, Oslo (1957).
  • Portugal:
  • Lisbon Coast: Circulo Eça de Queiroz, Lisbon (1940); Grémio Literário, Lisbon (1846); Royal British Club, Lisbon (1888).
  • Costa Verde: Club Portuense, Porto (1857).
  • Spain:
  • Basque Country: Sociedad Bilbaina, Bilbao (1839).
  • Catalonia: Circulo Ecuestre, Barcelona (1856); Circulo del Liceo, Barcelona (1847).
  • Canary Islands: British Club, Las Palmas (1889); Gabinete Literario, Las Palmas (1844); Real Casino de Tenerife (1840).
  • Madrid: Casino de Madrid, Madrid (1836).
  • Murcia: Real Casino de Murcia, Murcia (1847).
  • Switzerland: Haute Club, Zurich (2006).
  • United Kingdom:
  • England:
  • Eastern: Bury St Edmunds Farmers Club, Bury St Edmunds (1947); Colchester Officers' Club, Colchester (1887); Ipswich and Suffolk Club, Ipswich (1885); Norfolk Club, Norwich (1770).
  • East Midlands: Northampton & County Club, Northampton (1873); Nottingham Club, Nottingham (1920).
  • London: City University Club, London (1895); East India Club, London (1849); Oxford and Cambridge Club, London (1821); RAF Club, London (1918).
  • North East: Durham County Club, Durham (1882); Northern Counties Club, Newcastle (1829).
  • North West: The Athenaeum, Liverpool (1797); Chester City Club, Chester (1807); St. James's Club, Manchester (1825).
  • South East: Hove Club, Hove (1882); Kent and Canterbury Club, Canterbury (1873); Phyllis Court Club, Henley (1906); Vincent's Club, Oxford (1863).
  • South West: Bath and County Club, Bath (1790); Clifton Club, Bristol (1818); New Club, Cheltenham (1874); Paignton Club, Paignton (1882).
  • West Midlands: Potters' Club, Stoke-on-Trent (1951); St. Paul's Club, Birmingham (1859).
  • Yorkshire and Humberside: Bradford Club, Bradford (1857); Harrogate Club, Harrogate (1857); Sheffield Club, Sheffield (1847).
  • Wales: Cardiff and County Club, Cardiff (1866).
  • North and Central America:
  • Barbados: Barbados Yacht Club, Bridgetown (1924).
  • Canada:
  • Alberta: Ranchmen's Club of Calgary, Calgary (1891).
  • British Columbia: Union Club of British Columbia, Victoria (1879); Vancouver Club, Vancouver (1889).
  • Manitoba: Manitoba Club, Winnipeg (1874).
  • Ontario: National Club, Toronto (1874); Rideau Club, Ottawa (1865); Windsor Club, Windsor (1903).
  • Quebec: University Club of Montreal, Montreal (1907).
  • Saskatchewan: Saskatoon Club, Saskatoon (1907).
  • United States of America:
  • Arizona: University Club of Phoenix, Phoenix (1965).
  • California: California Yacht Club, Marina del Ray (1922); Los Angeles Athletic Club, Los Angeles (1880); Marina City Club, Marina del Ray (2013); Petroleum Club of Bakersfield, Bakersfield (1952); Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades (1926); Topa Tower Club, Oxnard (2010).
  • Colorado: Denver Athletic Club, Denver (1884).
  • Florida: Governors Club, Tallahassee (1982).
  • Georgia: Georgian Club, Atlanta (1983).
  • Hawaii: Pacific Club, Honolulu (1851).
  • Illinois: Standard Club, Chicago (1869); Union League Club of Chicago, Chicago (1879).
  • Indiana: Columbia Club, Indianapolis (1889).
  • Kentucky: Metropolitan Club, Covington (1991).
  • Maine: Cumberland Club, Portland (1877).
  • Minnesota: University Club of St. Paul, St. Paul (1912).
  • New York: Montauk Club, New York (1889); New York Athletic Club, New York (1868); Penn Club, New York (1901); Princeton Club, New York (1866).
  • North Carolina: Charlotte City Club, Charlotte (1947).
  • Ohio: Cincinnati Athletic Club, Cincinnati (1853); Toledo Club, Toledo (1889).
  • Pennsylvania: Racquet Club of Philadelphia, Philadelphia (1889).
  • Texas: Fort Worth Club, Fort Worth (1885).
  • Washington D.C.: Army and Navy Club, Washington (1891); Arts Club of Washington, Washington D.C. (1916).
  • Washington: Rainier Club, Seattle (1888).
  • South America:
  • Bolivia: Circulo del la Union, La Paz (1932).
  • Chile: Club de la Union, Santiago (1868).
  • Ecuador: Club de la Unión, Guayaquil (1869).
  • Uruguay: Club Uruguay, Montevideo (1885).

Presidents of the Club

Name[116] Tenure
The Rt Hon William Ewart Gladstone MP, FRS, FSS 1882–1898
The Rt Hon Earl Carrington (later the Most Hon Marquess of Lincolnshire) KG, GCMG, DL, JP 1903–1928
The Rt Hon Earl Beauchamp KG, KCMG 1929–1932
Baron Gladstone of Hawarden 1932–1935
The Most Hon the Marquess of Crewe KG 1935–1945
The Rt Hon Viscount Samuel of Mount Carmel and Toxteth GCB, OM, GBE 1946–1963
Harold Glanville JP† 1963–1966
The Rt Hon Baron Rea of Eskdale OBE, DL, JP 1966–1981
The Rt Hon Baron Banks of Kenton CBE 1982–1993
The Rt Revd Eric Kemp, Lord Bishop of Chichester FRHistS 1994–2008
The Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP (later the Rt Hon the Baron Beith of Berwick) 2008–present

†=died in office

Other groups and clubs absorbed or integrated into the NLC

  • The short-lived Century Club was absorbed into the NLC on its launch in November 1882.
  • The NLC regularly hosted meetings of the pro-Free Trade Cobden Club between the 1880s and 1930s resulting in the NLC and the Cobden Club sharing a very large number of memberships. The NLC absorbed most of the Cobden Club's membership after the Cobden Club's demise.[117]
  • Between 1963 and 1965, the Savage Club (named after actor and poet Richard Savage) lodged in some rooms at the NLC, and since 1990 the Savage Club has once again lodged in a ground-floor room of the club.
  • The Gladstone Club, a Liberal discussion group founded in 1973, continues to meet at the club.
  • As noted above, the Liberal Party leased the upper floors of the club as its national headquarters from 1977 to 1988.
  • Since 1977, Liberal International has had its international headquarters on the ground floor of the club.
  • The John Stuart Mill Institute is a liberal think tank founded in 1992 by several NLC members, which is based at the club and holds occasional lectures there.
  • The Liberal Democrat History Group founded in 1994 holds four meetings a year – two at the Lib Dem Spring and Autumn party conferences, and two at the NLC.
  • In 2014, the Authors' Club (which had been founded in the neighbouring Whitehall Court building in 1891, and had previously lodged in the NLC in 1966–76), returned to the club and is now housed there.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Lejeune, Anthony, with Malcolm Lewis, The Gentlemen's Clubs of London (Bracken Books, 1979 reprinted 1984 and 1987) chapter on National Liberal Club.
  2. Cornhill Magazine, Volume 88, Smith, Elder and Co. (1903), pp. 314, 319, states that the Century Club merged into the NLC "more than twenty years ago."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Peter Harris, "A Meeting Place for Liberals", Journal of Liberal History, No. 51, Summer 2006, pp. 18–23.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 Robert Steven, The National Liberal Club: Politics and Persons (Robert Holden, London, 1925), 91pp.
  5. 5.0 5.1 G. W. E. Russell, Fifteen Chapters of Autobiography(Thomas Nelson, London,undated), Chapter XXII.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Michael Meadowcroft, Celebrating 130 years o high Victorian style and elegance (NLC News, No. 63, November 2012), pp. 12–14.
  7. Roy Douglas, The History of the Liberal Party, 1895–1970 (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1971), p. 17.
  8. "THE NATIONAL LIBERAL CLUB. (Hansard, 4 May 1883)". Retrieved 6 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 'Portrait of George Bernard Shaw', The Times, 1 November 1925.
  10. George Bernard Shaw, 'The Case for Equality: speech at a National Liberal Club debate of 1913', in ed. James Fuchs, The Socialism of Shaw (New York, 1926), p. 58.
  11. Sir Alexander Mackintosh, Joseph Chamberlain: An Honest Biography (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1914), p. 327.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Hamilton Fyfe and Joseph Irving (eds.), The Annals of Our Time ...: pt. 1. 20 June 1887 – December 1890 (Macmillan, London, 1891).
  13. The Scots Observer, Vol. 1 (1889), p. 58.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 H.V. Emy, Liberals Radicals and Social Politics 1892–1914 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1973), p. 66.
  15. Michael Freeden, Minutes of the Rainbow Circle 1894–1924, edited and annotated (Camden New Series/Royal Historical Society, London, 1989).
  16. "Hansard". Retrieved 6 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Hansard". 11 May 1909. Retrieved 6 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Peter Rowland, Lloyd George (Barrie and Jenkins, London, 1975), p. 223.
  19. John Grigg, Lloyd George: The People's Champion, 1902–1911 (University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1978), p. 299.
  20. Richard Toye, Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness (Macmillan, London, 2007), p. 97.
  21. Roy Jenkins, Asquith (Collins, London, 1964), p. 461.
  22. Michael Bentley, The Liberal Mind 1914–29 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007), p. 81.
  23. Richard Toye, Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness (Macmillan, London, 2007), p. 243.
  24. Cameron Hazlehurst (ed.), "Introduction", The Lloyd George Liberal magazine, Volume 1, Issues 1–6 (Harvester Press, Sussex, 1973), p. xii.
  25. Frank Owen, Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George, His Life and Times (Hutchinson, London, 1954), p. 675.
  26. William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory, 1874–1932 (Michael Joseph, London, 1983), p. 750.
  27. "Identity Cards Scheme (Hansard, 23 June 1992)". Retrieved 6 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Peter Rowland, Lloyd George (Barrie and Jenkins, London, 1975), p. 604.
  29. Frank Owen, Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George, His Life and Times (Hutchinson, London, 1954), p. 684.
  30. J. Graham Jones, David Lloyd George and Welsh Liberalism (National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2010), p. 271.
  31. National Liberal Club application form, 2011.
  32. Short cinema documentary, Look at Life: Members Only (1965).
  33. 33.0 33.1 Seth Thévoz, 'Winston Churchill and the NLC', NLC Club News, No. 55 (November 2008), pp. 8–9.
  34. Plaque in the NLC smoking room.
  35. Shirreff, David. Euromoney. London: October 1996. , Iss. 330; p. 16.
  36. "4 Wounded in 3-Bomb Blitz on London", Times-Union, 22 December 1973, p. 3.
  37. "Bombs Explode, Injuring Four in London", The Montreal Gazette, 22 December 1973, p. 41.
  38. "Terrorist Bombs Injure Londoners", Star-News, 23 December 1973.
  39. "Police seek car after IRA bomb in Whitehall", The Daily Telegraph. London (UK): 11 January 1992, p. 1.
  40. Jeremy Thorpe, In My Own Time: Reminiscences of a Liberal Leader (Politico's, London, 1999), p. 107.
  41. Ivor Crewe and Anthony King, SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995), p. 200.
  42. Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater and David May, Jeremy Thorpe: A Secret Life (Fontana, 1979), pp. 190–194, for a detailed description of de Chabris' involvement in the club in the 1970s. See also The Times, Thursday, 21 October 1982; pg. 8; Issue 61368; col B.
  43. The Times, Wednesday, 10 November 1976; pg. 1; Issue 59857; col G; The Times, Friday, 19 November 1976; pg. 4; Issue 59865; col G.
  44. The Times, Thursday, 21 October 1982; pg. 8; Issue 61368; col B.
  45. ed. Ralph Bancroft, Liberator songbook, 2004 edition – notes for the song "Down at the old NLC".
  46. Michael McManus, Jo Grimond: Towards the Sound of Gunfire (Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2001), pp. 347–348. The full text of Grimond's NLC speech can be found here
  47. The Standard, Friday 19 April 1985, p. 2.
  48. Greg Hurst, Charles Kennedy: A Tragic Flaw (Politico's, London, 2006), p. 179.
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  50. Tudor Jones, The Revival of British Liberalism, from Grimond to Clegg (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2011), p. 216.
  52. Conversion of £165,950 in 1884 to account for inflation calculated using on 28 December 2014, giving a purchasing power calculation of exactly £15,090,000.00, accounting for the Retail Price Index change between 1884 and 2013.
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  55. Gavin Stamp and Colin Amery, Victorian buildings of London, 1837–1887: an illustrated guide (Architectural Press, London, 1980), p. 148.
  56. The Revd. Peter Harris, club archivist, "The Refurbishment of the Club Rooms", NLC Club News, No. 61, November 2011, p. 13.
  57. Clive's Underground Line Guides – History of the Bakerloo Line
  58. John Grigg, The Young Lloyd George (Eyre Methuen, London, 1973), pp. 127, 164, 225.
  59. Cyril Smith, Big Cyril: The Autobiography of Cyril Smith (W.H. Allen, London, 1977).
  60. Menzies Campbell, Menzies Campbell: My Autobiography (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2008), p. 108.
  61. G. K. Chesterton, The Club of Queer Trades (1905) on Project Gutenberg.
  62. H. G. Wells, Tono-Bungay (London, 1909), Book 3, Chapter 2.
  63. H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli (1911) retrieved from
  64. The Project Gutenberg EBook of Foe-Farrell, by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch.
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  66. P. G. Wodehouse, The Adventures of Sally (Herbert Jenkins, 1922).
  67. The Blyth House Murder, Terry Minahan (2011).
  68. Michael Meadowcroft, "Celebrating 130 Years of High Victorian Style and Elegance", NLC News, Issue 63, pp. 13–14.
  69. Mira Matikkala, ‘Anti-Imperialism, Englishness, andEmpire in late-Victorian Britain’ (Cambridge, PhD, 2006).
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  72. Open University biography of Ali
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  74. Henry Tudor and J.M. Tudor (eds.), "The Movement and the Final Goal: Bernstein's Second Exchange With Belfort Bax", Marxism and Social Democracy: The Revisionist Debate, 1896–1898 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988), p. 172.
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  84. Sankar Ghose, Mahatma Gandhi (South Asia Books, 1991), p. 66.
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  86. K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, A Great Liberal: Speeches and Writings of Sir P. S. Sivaswami Iyer (Allied Publishers, Calcutta, 1965), p. xxxvi.
  87. C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, chronology of Ramaswami Aiyar's life (note the alternative transliteration of his surname)
  88. National Liberal Club, List of Members, 1912 (NLC, London, 1903).
  89. Open University biography of Jinnah
  90. D.P. Crook, Benjamin Kidd: portrait of a social Darwinist (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009), p. 210. Kidd joined in 1902.
  91. Michael Meadowcroft, A Guide to the Works of Art of the National Liberal Club, London (National Liberal Club, London, 2011), p. 21.
  92. David Marquand, Ramsay Macdonald: A Biography (Jonathan Cape, 1977).
  93. 93.0 93.1 93.2 93.3 National Liberal Club: List of Members, July 1910 (National Liberal Club, London, 1910).
  94. Alfred F. Havighurst, Radical journalist: H. W. Massingham (1860–1924) (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974), p. 53.
  95. 95.0 95.1 Michael Meadowcroft, A Guide to the Works of Art of the National Liberal Club, London (National Liberal Club, London, 2011), p. 32.
  96. Kate Jackson, George Newnes and the new journalism in Britain, 1880–1910: culture and profit (Ashgate, Sussex, 2001), pp. 21, 102, 122.
  97. Anthony White, "Would-Be Africa Assassin Stuns London Club Friends", The Evening Independent, April 11 1960, p.1 The article noted that Pratt, a wealthy farmer, often stayed at the club when in London, was an active supporter of the British Liberal Party, and a bitter opponent of apartheid.
  98. Open University biography of Saklatvala
  99. John Sutherland, Stephen Spender: a literary life(Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005), pp. 14, 43.
  100. 100.0 100.1 Open University summary of the National Liberal Club
  101. Jonathan Fryer, Dylan: The Nine Lives of Dylan Thomas (Kyle Cathie, 1993), p. 51.
  102. Michael Meadowcroft, A Guide to the Works of Art of the National Liberal Club, London (National Liberal Club, London, 2011), p. 18.
  103. Plaque inside the NLC smoking room.
  104. National Liberal Club, List of Members, 1912 (NLC, London, 1912).
  105. Charles Graves, "National Liberal Club", Leather Armchairs: The Chivas Regal Book of London Clubs (Cassell, London, 1963), pp. 115–117.
  106. David Mckie, Jabez: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Scoundrel (Atlantic Books, London, 2004).
  107. David McKie, "A Sincere, Thorough & Hearty Liberal", Journal of Liberal History, Issue 52, Autumn 2006.
  108. "ALLOCATION OF TIME. (Hansard, 10 October 1912)". Retrieved 6 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  109. Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner and John Mackinnon Robertson, Charles Bradlaugh: a record of his life and work (2 vols.) (T.F. Unwin, London, 1908) Vol. 1, p. 93.
  111. Belinda Copson, ‘Awdry, Wilbert Vere (1911–1997)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, January 2007 accessed 17 Aug 2010
  112. William Digby and the Indian Question by Mira Matikkala
  113. "Arthur Wollaston Hutton", Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1922).
  114. Obituary: Harold Pinter, by Mel Gussow and Ben Brantley, New York Times, 25 December 2008.
  115. NLC list of reciprocal clubs worldwide, accessed 25 August 2014.
  116. Plaque of NLC presidents in the front hall.
  117. Club, Cobden. "". The Cobden Club – Report and List of Members, 1909. Cassell and Co. Ltd, London 1909. Retrieved 14 January 2012. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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