Clapham Travelodge, next to Clapham Junction tube

I recently claimed that I was never grumpy, which someone challenged, telling me that my attitude towards those who mistook Battersea for Clapham was textbook grumpiness. I corrected them. My attitude towards those who make such simple geographical mistakes is best described as righteous anger.

Or maybe righteous wrath.

It is currently aimed towards Travelodge, who are currently completing a new hotel on Falcon Road. Being a building site they have caused problems for their neighbours on Mossbury Road to be sure, but through it all I remained fairly emotionally balanced. But when their new hotel was listed on their website it immediately provoked a fit of righteous wrath.

To be fair, they did make attempts to compensate, cutting through decades of TfL delays and engineering to put Clapham Junction on the London Underground network (with an entrance I assume is in the menswear at Arding and Hobbs Debenhams). Despite that, I decided the only proportionate response was an email to the chain.

Contacting them is quite hard, their webform forces you to answer lots of questions, and only a few allow you to answer them. The Clapham Junction Town Centre Manager was one who managed to get through to them. She was told:

We appreciate that the location of the hotel is in between Clapham and Battersea, however we already have a hotel called ‘Battersea Travelodge’

Apart from being wrong about being ‘between Clapham and Battersea’ (because they are in Battersea), I can see the logic. And it does leave open all sorts of alternative names; I was wondering about Manhattan Travelodge, it is, after all, located between Manhattan and Southend-on-Sea, but they already have a Southend Travelodge.

I was blessed with a slightly more positive response:

your feedback has been forwarded to our facilities for them to make the decision if this hotel should be renamed before its opening

Sadly, I think this translates to ‘we’ll pass this on to someone else to ignore’.

On the upside, the responses at least mean we have an email address for Travelodge which obviates the need for their awful customer service webform, it’s

In fact, I’ve gone even further. If you think they need to re-think, then here’s a pre-filled email with a few facts that might help convince them to reconsider their name.

Is it bin night

Although Wandsworth’s new refuse collection contract isn’t that new any more, some people are still getting caught out. This handy flowchart will help you work out if it’s bin night or not (click the picture for a marginally larger version)

Local, to leafy Clapham St John's at least

I have a reputation for being a bit grumpy about people pretending they are in Clapham when they are, in fact, firmly in Battersea.

I’m not sure why this has developed, since intensive cognitive behavioural therapy and daily meditation normally keeps it in check. But I know a few issues do fester. One is ‘The Plough, Clapham’, probably more because – since leaving Wandsworth – Young’s has become a soulless hotel/pub chain and the beer is no longer what it once was.

To the east of Fulham Trinity...

The other I consider a much worse sin: Sainsbury’s Clapham St John’s.

Not content with naming themselves after an area several miles away. Sainsbury’s have compounded the sin by making up an entirely new district.

I’m not quite sure where the name originated. Maybe they genuinely thought people call the area Clapham St John’s. It’s entirely possible they liked the ecclesiastical sound of the name which gives it a rural feel. Perhaps they feel inadequate when compared to Tesco, so like to act like a corporate giant that has no connection with its local community.

I like to think it’s a new variation on the porn star/Star Wars/whatever naming games, and you take the name of the last place you got drunk and the church you were baptised. So the manager had to think about THAT night out, checked with their parents and lo Sainsbury’s Clapham St John’s was born. (If you are interested I wasn’t baptised, so can proudly say I live in plain old Battersea.)

I have attempted to raise this with Sainsbury’s via their website, but to no avail. Initially it was passed to their ‘Careline’, who ignored me for a few months. When I chased them up, they basically said “nothing to do with me, guv” (you could almost hear the Clapham St John’s accent) but said they’d pass it on to the relevant department and the issue would be “considered carefully.”

Perhaps I’m cynical, but I rather doubt it was considered at all; I don’t think Sainsbury’s is one of those retailers that especially strives to be part its local community. I’ve certainly heard nothing since.

Luckily, I have a blog, so in addition to therapy and mediation I can vent my frustration. As well as taking satisfaction that, living in Battersea, or Chelsea Lavender as some know it, there’s a Waitrose and an Asda that both know where they are.

View Larger Map

Google Maps is now more accurate!

Having been raised many times by many different people like the SW11tch campaign and various people from the Streetlife Identity Taskforce the mapping used by Google now puts Clapham over, well, Clapham.

While this shouldn’t take any credit away from map providers like Bing or the community created Open Street Map who never got it wrong in the first place, Google Maps is by far the most used online mapping service and often came up as an excuse even when a business was almost in Wandsworth (not naming names, Sainsbury’s Clapham St John’s).

It’s a bit of an early Christmas present, and inspires me to keep chipping away at the remaining Clapham/Battersea offenders.

Before yesterday I’d never been to a ground-breaking. And never really understood them, it seemed an attempt to attach symbolism to an other arbitrary part of a process. But yesterday’s was different.

The keys had been removed before he was allowed in!

For a start Boris Johnson was doing the ground-breaking, and it’s always worth listening to him speak: and he was as entertaining as it was educational. Starting by suggesting the souvenir paperweight he’d been given may also be useful in defending himself from rioters, he declared the ‘Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea’ designation unsuitable (and said he’d decided it should just be Battersea) went on to discuss the changing path of the Thames (which he congratulated on finally deciding to flow through the world’s greatest city) before finishing to “declare the ground shortly to be broken.”

The irony being that he didn’t actually break any ground; health and safety, you understand.

So it will fall to someone else to dig out that first patch of ground. But the symbolism is there nonetheless. After all these years, work is finally starting in Nine Elms. Riverlight is the first, and has moved from St James acquiring the site to work starting in under two years, but there is so much more to come: the US Embassy, Covent Garden Market and the Power Station itself.

Finally everyone will start seeing Nine Elms as more than sketches and computer-generated imagery, but a developing area and a new centre for Wandsworth and London.

I know I petulantly boycotted the ballot, but I’m so proud of democracy I could burst!

The people have spoken. Asda is in Battersea!

I’m not going to dwell on the ugly battles before like the time Mick Beck “confirmed” the store was in Clapham or point out that they are re-adopting a name they refused to admit they’d ever had (despite a relaunch with it two years ago).

No. Today is a day to be proud of Battersea, because it was Battersea that produced such a magnificent result. I suggest we all celebrate with something fizzy from Waitrose!

From their press release:


After weeks of debate amongst local residents, councillors, the local MP, and community groups, Asda is proud to announce the new name of the store as “Asda Clapham Junction, Battersea” following an instore ballot.

Even though the final ballot results showed Asda Clapham Junction as a favourite with customers the store were keen to ensure Clapham Junction is still recognised as being at the heart of Battersea.

Full Ballot results

  • Asda Clapham Junction 374 votes
  • Asda Battersea 350 votes
  • Asda Clapham Junction Battersea 109 votes
  • Asda Clapham 91 votes

General Store Manager, Mick Beck, said: “I’m delighted that we have finally come to a decision on the store name, we’re incredibly proud of our location and we would like to thank our customers who took the time to come in and vote – here’s to the new and improved, ASDA Clapham Junction, Battersea.”

I’m fully aware that many wonder why on earth I feel so strongly about Asda calling themselves ‘Clapham’. I’ve been expounding on it a lot recently, not on this blog, but the story has been covered on BBC Radio London, in the Evening Standard, the South London Press (not on their website) and the Wandsworth Guardian.

I think I’ll to a post I made on Streetbook:

To return to the discussion about the difference, London is not a bland homogenous entity. Its charm and beauty is that Battersea and Clapham aren’t the same. Just as Soho and Pimlico are different. Or Wembley and Kilburn. There are similarities, but the atmosphere, the vibe, is always different.

In many ways we are not only trying to protect the name Battersea, but also Clapham, which is mis-used to cover so much of South London it’s becoming meaningless.

To have an attachment to a place, you must first know that place. In exactly the same way you can’t truly have a friend or lover who is a stranger to you. To say that you love Clapham when you really mean Battersea only betrays that you haven’t yet made that connection. And it’s those connections and common bonds that strengthen our communities and society.

And I’d probably add a line from the Wandsworth Guardian for good measure:

It’s no coincidence that those who believe it’s Clapham are often those with weaker ties to the area; new residents, antipodean travellers, Yorkshire based supermarkets.

My opinions on it are fairly clear. What I just cannot understand is Asda’s opinion, or lack thereof. They are holding a ballot in store to ask people what they think. And I’m boycotting it. I know it’s just one vote, and am not going to suggest to anyone else that they boycott it, but it devalues everything, Battersea, Clapham and democracy.

I may as well hold a ballot on whether a giraffe has a long neck or to see if people think it would be quite cold in the Arctic circle.

Democracy is about opinions, beliefs. It’s about a political process and a choosing a vision for a town, borough, region, nation. It is not something that changes the facts. All a ballot will prove is that of those that voted some know the store is in Battersea, and some didn’t.

To suggest that the long history of places like Battersea and Clapham can be changed by a few shoppers putting crosses on scraps of paper is nonsensical. While after a 1,000 years historians may still point to Battersea’s place in the Domesday Book, I rather doubt any will be referring to Asda’s pointless ballot in 3010.

If they want ballots perhaps they can have a look at the one being run by the Battersea Society which currently shows 97.8% of people know Asda is in Battersea. If they want something more neutral, perhaps the Wandsworth Guardian’s poll would do, that currently has 78% of people putting Asda correctly in Battersea. Or maybe the South London Press’s straw poll of shoppers which had 70% correctly stating it should be Asda Battersea.

So, I’m not taking part in something that shows nothing be disrespect to the area I love and its long history.

But despite that I’m looking forward to a result that reflects all the other polls and shows a sold victory for Battersea. If it’s any other result, I’ll have to see if the Asda manager will do me a favour if I stand for re-election, it would save all that lengthy campaigning!

The SW11 de-militarised zone, personified by Jack Dee and Vivienne Westwood

The whole Asda argument made the Evening Standard today.

I’m reluctant to call it an argument or a row because, actually, it’s nothing like that. It’s only people like Asda getting it wrong, being told they’re wrong, then given evidence that they are wrong, then shown that just a few years before they were getting it right, and that their website still gets it right, but being too embarrassed to admit they were wrong.

But the Evening Standard produced a useful map, highlighting Battersea, Clapham, and the “disputed area”.

I rather like that, it gives it an air of mystique. It’s got the behind-enemy-lines sort of sound that belongs to a Bond movie.

80 years ago, on people don't know where Battersea is, and the trains aren't any faster

Last time there was a coalition between the Liberals and the Conservatives was 1922. It didn’t end well, at least it didn’t end well for Lloyd-George. But some things were better.

Imagine you were at Victoria and needed to get to Clapham as quickly as possible. You’ve heard trains go from here to Clapham Junction, so you pull out your trusty copy of Bradshaw’s Railway Guide and look up the times…

Still probably too close to Clapham for some

Hold, what’s that, there’s a little indicator next to Clapham Junction. Better check what that refers too. Hold, it says here that Clapham Junction is actually “Mid. Battersea, 1¼ miles from Clapham.”

Phew, were it not for the accuracy of Bradshaw you’d have found yourself in the middle of Battersea.

And it wasn’t just Bradshaw’s Railway Guide.

Even in 1947 SW11 was in Battersea

Imagine it’s 1947, for whatever reason you find yourself away from home, perhaps working and staying in a guest house, you’re curious exactly where you are. You know the address is London SW11, so you grab an RAC guide you always have in your battered leather suitcase…

Ooo, that’s interesting, SW11 is Battersea it says here, SW4 is Clapham. Now you know where you are you might pop to the wonderful Battersea Park you’ve heard so much about, and you’re so glad you haven’t ended staying in that horrible SW4.

Asda Clapham Junction, in Battersea. Not Clapham

Of course, in this wonderful modern world in which we live you could probably just pull out your phone and look it up on the internet. There are plenty of sites that can do it, like this one for Asda that correctly says it’s Battersea.

If only their store manager had made the effort to check.

I have to offer huge thanks to Ian Freeman for sending me the scans. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that, although not a Battersea resident, he’s on the side of right in this battle, and won the SW11 Literary Festival Slogan for Battersea competition with “Battersea: It’s the dog’s”

If you want to download the full size scans feel free: