Is Peabody trying to get it all wrong until the end? It’s with disbelief that local residents saw the new advertising board that Peabody & Mount Anvil have placed on the wooden panels surrounding the last phase of the development in St John’s Hill: They call the new estate “One Clapham”!
If there was any doubt to Peabody’s communication team, they could have checked on Wikipedia and read:
“Clapham Junction is an urban locality around Clapham Junction railway station in London, England. Despite its name, it is not located in Clapham, but forms the commercial centre of Battersea.”
They have set-up a website called www.oneclapham.com, explaining that they are a minute from the station. But which one? Clapham North? Clapham South? Clapham Common? Future buyers arriving at those stations and seeking the estate might be met with an awkward surprise.
Most of their presentation video shows pictures from Battersea Power Station, Battersea Park, even the Saatchi Gallery… and nothing on Clapham Common or Wandsworth Common (the closest park, only 500 meters away). There is only a short mention of Northcote Road just at the last third of the video.
On the oneclapham.com website (which is redirecting to Mount Anvil, the partner chosen by Peabody for the last phase of the development, after the numerous issues they had with Sisk previously) they have a page called “Why Clapham?”, which is meant to explain why the location is great. However, the display mixes up different areas, as if a trainee PR assistant from another city had written the text without much checking. It shows a picture of Northcote Road while saying that it’s the vibrant Clapham Old Town, etc.
Peabody & Mount Anvil initially responded (we highlighted some parts):
“The St John’s Hill estate has been known by a number of names through the years, including St John’s Way, Peabody Clapham Estate and more recently Burridge Gardens. […]
[…] we’ve started to build the final phase of new homes which will also provide 1,751 square metres of additional public realm and a new route from Clapham Junction station to Strath Terrace and beyond.
As part of this final phase, we originally marketed the development as One Clapham Junction to highlight the close proximity to the station. However, we found that many people were confused thinking it referred to Clapham Junction station itself, so we removed the word Junction from the marketing name and settled on One Clapham. We also made it clear that the location is in Battersea, London. As the development is between the wider areas of Battersea and Clapham we feel this is appropriate. Throughout our marketing we celebrate the neighbourhood of Battersea and all that it offers to current, and future, residents.”
But it is likely that the real people who are confused are the marketing staff from Peabody and Mount Anvil, as even their website uses a picture in Venn Street, right near Clapham Common station, to illustrate the location.
It’s a bit similar to Battersea Power Station advertising their development with pictures of Canary Wharf and vice and versa.
The confusion is spreading quickly on estate agent websites. Benham & Reeves are advertising the property development with a correct name as “One Clapham Junction” but they also explain:
“this desirable location in Clapham neighbours fashionable neighbourhoods like Chelsea, Fulham, and Battersea”
… the problem is that this is not neighbouring Battersea… this is Battersea!
It is a little bit better on Savills’ website, although the text contains traces of the confusion:
“Situated in SW11, One Clapham Junction comprises one, two and three-bedroom apartments […] the development is surrounded by lush green spaces and the buzz of Clapham’s vivid boutiques and bars”.
We contacted Mount Anvil to get some explanation. Michael Rolfe, their Construction Director, said he completely understands the issue and “it does not make sense“. He suggested setting up a meeting to discuss the issue and what can be done to rectify it.
At the time of publishing, we did not receive a response from Tom Beardmore, Mount Anvil Marketing Director.
Why is Clapham Junction named as such?
A Council’s Press Release dated January 2021 published a very interesting article about Clapham Junction History. The article starts in 1856 when three railway companies that each had trains running through the area got together to build a station at the junction of several lines.
“It is likely that the Clapham part of the name was an attempt to appeal to upper class passengers, as it sounded posher than Battersea Junction.”
We dedicated an entire article ten years ago about the changes that occurred in Clapham Junction between 1745 and 2011.
The area named Clapham, located one mile east of the station in the borough of Lambeth, became a sought-after area for affluent merchant classes from the City of London throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. They built numerous sizable and elegant houses and villas around Clapham Common and within Clapham Old Town. In the mid-19th century, Battersea was associated with industry and poor working people.
Therefore, in 1863, in what we would call nowadays a PR exercise, the railway companies decided to name “Clapham Junction” the new station at Falcon Bridge. This marketing initiative has resulted in prolonged confusion, spanning decades, wherein numerous individuals, including local businesses, are under the impression that they are located in Clapham, which is more than a mile away down the road.
A never ending local campaign to make businesses acknowledge they are NOT in Clapham
Frequently, individuals exiting Clapham Common or Clapham North underground stations inquire about directions to the Northcote Pub or The Grand nightclub. Both venues are situated a mile or two away and are connected to Clapham solely by bus routes.
In 2005, a campaign was initiated by the community group LoveBattersea to acknowledge Clapham Junction’s significant role within the Battersea district and to combat the widespread misconception that it is located in Clapham. In 2014, after several years of discussion with Wandsworth Council and proprietors of ShopStop at Clapham Junction station, a large sign displaying the name of the area was erected.
Many local people still remember the outcry when they discovered that Asda on Lavender Hill renamed itself “Asda Clapham”. Unlike other supermarket chains such as Waitrose, Asda is centralised, and most decisions are made at their head office in Leeds. And those people apparently knew better than the ones living in Clapham Junction where their store was!
Former councillor James Cousins spent months battling with Asda for them to change their name. In September 2010, James got the most hilarious response (especially the part we have highlighted) from the supermarket:
Thank you for contacting ASDA about the name we have given to our ASDA Clapham store.
I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment at ASDA naming the store Clapham instead of Battersea. I can assure you ASDA welcome all customers, whatever there background. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone with the name of the store.
Having spoke to the General Store Manager, he confirmed the store is in Clapham, this is the reasoning for the name of the store. Also if we were to change the name of the store it would lose it’s identity in the local area.
Again, I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment, I hope all your points have been covered in this email. If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
ASDA Service Team”
In other words, let’s call it “Clapham”, otherwise people get confused (it’s the same explanation as Mount Anvil and Peabody).
Refusing to acknowledge a mistake, they eventually, decided to organise a poll to decide where the Asda store was really (because it seems that for them, geography is a matter of choice). A spokeswoman for Asda said: “We just want to go with what local people want“. So if people want to call it Asda Sydney, let’s go for that (because according to the Evening Standard, Aussies like to call the area Clapham)? Fortunately common sense prevailed (and the poll!) and in November 2010, it was switched back to Asda Clapham Junction.
In 2012, a similar thing happened for the new Travelodge hotel at the bottom of Mossbury Road/Falcon Road. James contacted them, and he 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’“. He commented on his blog:
“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.”
Hopefully, we will hear from Peabody & Mount Anvil very soon, and all necessary changes will be made.