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The Victory Services Club occupies an enviable position in the capital. Just up the road from Hyde Park and with the beautiful open spaces of Kensington Gardens and Green Park a short stroll away, it’s a convenient, accessible and central venue.

The Club is surrounded by historic monuments and areas. Speaker’s Corner is within earshot when the wind is in the right direction, while a huge number of museums and attractions are all nearby.

The Victory Services Club has a long and fascinating history. Founded in 1907 by Major Arthur Haggard, a story of bravery, honour and inspiration underpins its beginnings. Following the end of the Second Boer War in 1902, Major Haggard was horrified to see the number of homeless war veterans on the streets of the capital. His vision was to unite members of the armed forces to work together to help them.

The VSC started out as The Veterans’ Association, meeting in rooms hired above the Cittie of Yorke pub in High Holborn. The building still stands today. The twentieth century saw many conflicts and following the First World War and the economic depression of the Thirties, the Club moved to Bedford Row where it offered 80 more much-needed bedrooms to veterans.

Upon the death of the Club President, Field Marshal Viscount Allenby in 1936, the decision was taken to rename the Club. At the ceremony to transform it into The Allenby (Services) Club, Secretary of State for War, the first Viscount Norwich, said, “You could not have a finer monument to the memory of a finer man.”

The bombardment of the capital took its toll on the Club during the Second World War. It was seriously damaged six times during the Blitz, as was the surrounding area. Determinedly rising from the rubble and smoke, the Club continued to offer shelter and hospitality to its guests. The minutes of a meeting held on 29th September 1942 shows just how committed to its vision the Club was. “The Committee consider the Club should be kept open at all costs to provide amenities for the ex-Servicemen of the last war, many of whom regard it as their home, while at the same time offering hospitality to serving soldiers, including Allied forces, who may care to use it while in London.”

The potential costs were high. At the height of the Blitz, huge numbers of people were dying every night in the capital. Death and injury from bombardment, fire and accidents caused by unstable buildings were all too common, even in 1942 when the bombing was less intense. The bravery of the Club Committee in such desperate circumstances shines through.

By June 1943, it was decided to move again. The Committee acquired the lease for the Connaught Club on Seymour Street which is still the home of the VSC today. By the beginning of 1947, the Club started offering membership to servicewomen and by 1948, sufficient funds were in place to secure the building and refurbish it.

Standing proudly in Central London, the Victory Services Club continues to offer hospitality to its members and guests, while playing a key part in the local community. Major Arthur Haggard’s original vision of a safe, welcoming and hospitable venue in London has been more than realised over the years since it was founded, and will continue to do so for many years to come.