The India Club in the Strand is to close down on 17 September, after apparently losing a six-year battle against redevelopment.
The freeholders, Marston Properties, first submitted plans to develop the site as a luxury hotel in 2017. The Club – which these days is not restricted to members – raised funds to fight for its survival, and launched a petition signed by 27,000 supporters.
News of its demise was announced by Yadgar Marker and his daughter Phiroza, who have held the lease on the premises for the past 26 years. They said: “It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the closure of The India Club.”
Opened in 1951, in the early years of India’s independence, it is one of very few restaurants with a genuine claim to historical significance beyond its food: founded by the pro-independence India League, early members included movers and shakers in Indian politics including the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Lady Mountbatten, wife of the last British viceroy.
Shashi Tharoor, an MP in Kerala, said of the news: “I am sorry to hear that the India Club, London, is to close permanently. As the son of one of its founders, I lament the passing of an institution that served so many Indians (and not only Indians) for nearly three-quarters of a century. For many students, journalists and travellers, it was a home away from home, offering simple and good quality Indian food at affordable prices as well as a convivial atmosphere to meet and maintain friendships.”
Reached via an anonymous-looking staircase from the Strand, the Club consists of a lounge (pictured) and dining room whose decor has hardly changed over the years. In the latest Harden’s guide it is hailed as ‘an institution that deserves to survive, and an oasis of good value in central London’.