Battersea Recommends...

...that Waterstone's SW11tch


March 2009





Waterstone's continue to hold out that they are in Clapham.....and are publicly (albeit unintentionally) misleading Battersea children about their geography, history and identity.



It is with great sadness that the SW11tch Campaign have to report that the Heart of Battersea's centre of literary learning - Waterstone's Bookshop on St. John's Road in Battersea SW11 - is still insisting that the store is located in CLAPHAM. When the shop was Ottakars bookshop the SW11tch campaign team heard from many residents who had raised this with staff and managers, but all to no avail. It was hoped that when Waterstone's took over Ottakars, correct geography might prevail, particularly as they only had to open Patrick Loobey's wonderful history book of Battersea - Battersea Past, which could once be found on the stores' shelves, and all would have become clear.

Here is the first of a number of pictures prove our point, taken in the childrens' books area of the store:-


The 'recommends' line appears in many Waterstone's stores, alongside the name of each particular branch. We believe that it is awful that local children in Battersea have had good books advertised but under the brand of another place in another Borough, for Clapham is in the Borough of Lambeth and Clapham Junction in the Heart of Battersea, in the Borough of Wandsworth.

What makes this even more upsetting is that Waterstone's have been so generous in continuing Ottakars' sponsorship of Battersea's SW11 Literary Festival, something that is greatly appreciated by many in the Battersea community.

One local resident has reported that when they queried this with one of the staff in the shop, they told them that they knew it was a mistake to have "Clapham Recommends" and that they knew that the store was in Battersea and revealed that quite a lot of people had raised this over time. However, they informed the resident that the relevant managers would not change it. 

A resident had a conversation with a manager of the store - the manager said that he was unable to take any action as a regional manager insisted that the store was in Clapham. This is a regular problem that the SW11tch campaign has come across - a locally based manager does not have the authority to change the incorrect geographic designation of a store and cannot get the right response from a higher placed manager. Ivory towers come to mind, and corporate disinterest in the sense of identity and history (let alone unarguable geography of a community that they exist in). But as we have already said, Waterstone's have already shown how committed they are through their support for the SW11 Literary Festival - how wonderful it would be if they'd rename it the "Battersea Litarary Festival".....and what a result for the proud people of Battersea!

Looking into Waterstone's mix-up with Clapham in more detail, we have found that they may be relying on inaccurate mapping that is used on their store finder webpages.

A search for a Waterstone's bookshop in Battersea on the company's store finder website returns this:


The data appears to come from Michelin and Tele Atlas, and they place Clapham on Battersea Rise and do not feature Clapham Town at all !!

However, Waterstone's clearly have the store designated as "Clapham" and even the address as Clapham, and their manager's email is "". 

On a recent visit we thought we should suggest that the manager open Patrick Loobey's book on Battersea, mentioned above - horror of horrors we found that the store no longer stocked it but seemed to fill the local interest section with books on....yes, you guessed it...Clapham!

Below - Patrick Loobey's book Battersea Past is not found:


So, just in case Waterstone's has forgotten what Loobey's terrific book looks like, here is a picture:


Inside on page 55, he details how Clapham Junction got its name and where it lies in Battersea geographically and we hope that Waterstone's will read it very carefully, inwardly digest and SW11tch Back to Battersea as soon as possible.



Patrick Loobey's very sad and untimely death lost Battersea its greatest historian and one of its greatest supporters - if only he were with us today and could talk Waterstone's senior management into a SW11tch.

We hope so much that Waterstone's will once again stock his book. 

The SW11tch Campaign intends to write formally to Waterstone's, explaining our campaign, telling them how others have SW11tched and ask them to Back Battersea and (in effect) announce the opening of their first store in BEAUTIFUL BATTERSEA, on St. John's Road. This road is named after the St. John family who were Lords of the Manor of Battersea and the most famous of them was Henry St. John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (see Wikipedia article >>) after whom Bolingbroke Grove was named. This road runs north south from Battersea Rise to Nightingale Lane along Wandsworth Common, an area of common land once known as Battersea West Heath (Battersea East Heath being the common land that merged with Clapham's parish common to form today's Clapham Common. The crest of the St. John family was a falcon - hence the Falcon Pub, Falcon Lane and Falcon Road. Walter St. John, who founded the school on Battersea High Street that is now know as Thomas's Battersea, is another well known member of this distinguished family.

We also realise that we shall have to tackle the mapping companies whose geography is awry - a truly terrible state of affairs, but not in the case of Britain's Ordnance Survey which is an example to Google and Michelin & Co (we hope!).





For further information contact the campaign team via: