United Service Club

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The United Service Club was a London gentlemen's club, now dissolved, which was established in 1815 and was disbanded in 1978. Its clubhouse was at 116 Pall Mall, on the corner of Waterloo Place.

It was founded for the use of senior officers in the army and navy - those above the rank of Major or Commander - and the club was accordingly known to its members as "The Senior". Because of its emphasis on senior officers, it was considered the most prestigious of London's military clubs - reflected partly in its entry fees, which were the highest of any London club in the 1880s, although there has been some speculation this was a device to limit the number of new members.[1]

Its clubhouse was built between 1826 and 1828 by the noted architect John Nash (in a style mirrored by the Athenaeum opposite), containing military friezes along the top of the building. The building was later altered and extended by Decimus Burton between 1858-9, and then again by the firm of Thompson and Walford, in the years 1912–13 and 1929–30.[2] It was built on the site of the former Carlton House.[3]

Despite the club's prestige, like many other clubs it ran into serious financial difficulties in the 1970s, and was forced to close in 1978. However, when the building was bought by the Institute of Directors (IoD), a condition of the sale was that the IoD would retain all of the club's original fixtures and fittings, which it still does today. Although the building still stands today substantially intact, the old club building makes up only part of the IoD headquarters on Pall Mall, whose complex encompasses several neighbouring buildings which were never part of the club.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Antonia Taddei, London clubs in the late nineteenth century (Oxford University discussion paper, 1999), p.16
  2. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40704
  3. ^ http://www.116pallmall.com/about_us/history_of_116/

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