More than a century after its foundation, The Wimbledon Society remains committed to its founding principles – ‘to safeguard the amenities of the district, to promote an interest in local history and wildlife, and to preserve objects of historical and natural interest’.
In particular we work towards:
- preserving, protecting and improving features of historic and public interest in our locality
- protecting our environment
- promoting high standards of planning and architecture in the area
- stimulating public interest in our local history and architecture
The Society is run entirely by volunteers and its key tasks are:
- maintaining a fine Museum
- monitoring all significant planning and environmental issues and provide input to strategic planning in Wimbledon
- arranging a full programme of exhibitions, lectures, walks, excursions and special events
- publishing a quarterly newsletter with a range of topics of local interest to our membership
- managing a website which is regularly updated with news of the Society’s activities
The Wimbledon Society was founded in 1903 by Richardson Evans and a number of leading residents ‘to protect and improve the grace, dignity, and picturesque amenities’ of Wimbledon. It owed its origins to the campaign by local residents to protect Wimbledon Common from being encroached upon by urban development. With the coming of the railway Wimbledon experienced an extraordinary transformation in the second half of the 19th century, from a small village to a major suburb. The challenge was to protect the amenities of the area.
The Society was originally called the ‘John Evelyn Club’ – ‘Club’ to promote friendly talk over common interests, and ‘John Evelyn’ after the 17th century writer, gardener and diarist. The present name ‘The Wimbledon Society’ was adopted in 1982. Its first meeting was held in the hall next to the Village Club in the Ridgway.
In 1916 the Society opened a museum in the Village Club, and that building remains its home to this day. The museum underwent major refurbishment in 1974 and in the 1990s. Another renovation is being planned in 2021, to make the Museum fit for the 21st century.
Over the past 120 years, the Society has campaigned tirelessly to ensure a sympathetic and orderly development of Wimbledon and to safeguard its amenities.
- in the 1920s it saved Beverley Meads in Raynes Park, parts of Wimbledon Park and the old Village Green from development
- in the 1930s the Society’s greatest achievement was to help save the Royal Wimbledon Golf Course from development by the Council
- in the 1960s it instigated the ‘Village Face Lift’ which greatly improved the appearance of the High Street and Church Road
- in the 1970s the Society campaigned successfully for a major extension to local Conservation Areas
- in the 1980s, we pressed the Council to adopt “Our Town Our Plan’ when controversial proposals for the redevelopment of the Town Centre were planned; instead we ended up with Centre Court, the ‘fridge on the bridge’, and destruction of a fine Civic Hall
- over the last 30 years the Society has continued to monitor the Council’s plans for Wimbledon
- in 2019 we published ‘Vision 2040’ our detailed critique of the Council’s draft masterplan for the Town Centre, and our alternative vision for the area, including the creation of pedestrianised streets, green spaces, reduced building heights, and a concert hall
- in recent years the Society has become increasingly concerned with climate change and other environmental issues